Matthew Rhodes/Register: Agua Fresh offers a wide variety of healthy-eating options including smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, oatmeal bowls and more. The shop has a rustic urban vibe to it that appeals to the college crowds that frequent the new place. Agua Fresh opened its doors in Brookings Sept. 1, and it is the second location in South Dakota.

There’s a new addition to restaurant options in downtown Brookings, with the Sept. 1 opening of smoothie and sandwich shop Agua Fresh.

Located at 420 Main Ave., the store is currently open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on the weekend. 

Agua Fresh shares a building with the Brookings Commercial Kitchen and is the storefront beneath the Ben Franklin Apartments. It is the second Agua Fresh location, with the company originating in Sioux Falls.

“When I was first in Sioux Falls, I saw that there were no concepts like that (a smoothie shop), and I saw a future for Agua Fresh starting in the Midwest and spread out,” cofounder Sinan Taskin said.

Agua Fresh specializes in smoothies and juice drinks, but it also offers grilled sandwiches, wraps, salads, and all-day breakfast options. Taskin said there are several options for vegetarians and vegans and those who are trying to minimize their sugar intake.

“We are aiming to have more locations around the Midwest,” Taskin said. He eventually wants to franchise the 4-year-old company, but he needs to be able to manage several different locations within a regional area before branching out nationally.

The Brookings Agua Fresh location is next to the Commercial Kitchen which is – and will remain – available for locals to rent out and use to cook and sell their product on the other side of the lobby. Through the north doors in the lobby is the large venue space that is still being worked on, but currently has overflow seating available for those going to Agua Fresh.

“I’ve researched a lot with all of the bigger companies and how they work. I read a lot of books, I read like three or four smoothie books before I made the smoothie recipes,” Taskin said. He also said he worked with various culinary professors when perfecting the smoothies. 

“Especially here in the Midwest, everyone loves their French fries and burgers,” Taskin joked. “I had a really hard time finding what to eat. I started putting on weight when I came here and I was like over 20 pounds of my current weight, and then I saw that there’s a missing healthy option. When you come here, it’s all healthy and fresh, and you can always find an option for yourself. If you’re vegetarian or vegan or neither, we have an option for you. And hopefully in the future we will start working with local producers, so we’ll help our community together.”

Taskin was raised in Turkey and said he studied to be an electrical engineer. He had worked for the Chinese megacorporation Huawei before emigrating to the United States. 

He said that he had difficulty getting a job in the United States and settled on owning several kiosks at the Sioux Empire Mall in Sioux Falls. Eventually, he said, he dreamed of creating a large, healthy food option across the Midwest.

“I won a green card through the lottery seven years ago. So I came to the United States, but when I was a student I was always traveling in the United States. I was working in the summertime and I was just traveling after I worked and such,” Taskin said. 

“But when I went to California, New York, Miami, like these kind of concepts like Agua Fresh – they are really popular out there. But I chose to live in the Midwest because I love the Midwest people and the community and being in the small community – it’s like a family, because I am away from my family.”

“I just love being here in the United States, in this beautiful community. … And hopefully I’ll do great things here,” Taskin said.

For more information, visit aguafreshfood.com or stop in at 420 Main Ave. in downtown Brookings. For more information on the Brookings Commercial Kitchen, visit brookingskitchen.com

Contact Matthew Rhodes at mrhodes@brookingsregister.com.

Courtesy of The Brookings Register

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