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Gone Bananas offers healthy-er sweet selection

By JENNIFER PRIEST
Aug. 30, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

Candice Partida, 22, who has worked at Gone Bananas for two years fills a fruit cup for a customer. Partida likes to make smoothies and drinks the most, she thinks it is interesting the fruit combinations some customers request.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Gone Bananas

WHERE: 2202 N. Laurent St., Victoria

WHEN: 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday; closed Sundays.

MORE INFORMATION: 361-570-6144

Casey Couch wasn't searching to become a business owner when he applied at Gone Bananas eight years ago.

He needed a part-time job while attending college, and serving refreshing mixed fruit cups and smoothies was at the time a perfect fit.

But two years ago, after working his way up to manager, the owners were searching to sell the store.

They offered it to Couch, who was then only 24 years old, and finalized the sale.

"I'm the sole proprietor, and I'm trying to make a career out of it," the 26-year-old said.

Gone Bananas has been around since the '90s and hasn't changed much from its original concept of providing a healthy, alternative fruit, ice cream and smoothie bar to area residents.

The focus, Couch said, is on its mixed fruit cups, which can be topped with various food items.

Nirvana De Los Santos, 24, of Victoria, said the fruit cup is her favorite dessert at Gone Bananas.

"I'm fruit crazy," De Los Santos said, adding that she tops her fruit cup with chili powder and cream. "They offer a lot here, but I always get the fruit cup."

The store also features fresh milkshakes and 15 flavors of ice cream.

"I want to keep going with what's worked here for so long," Couch said.

Some of the items growing in popularity are the party fruit trays, which come in five different sizes serving 12 to 50 people. The trays also come with a fruit dip, making this a hit for children and adults alike, he said.

"A lot of the schools have started to discourage parents from bringing cake and cookies to class for the kids, so they'll come in here and buy a fruit tray," Couch said. "We're not trying to brand ourselves as a health food store, but fruit has a lot of health benefits, and it's a better alternative to cake and ice cream."

Summertime is the busiest time of year at the store, and people are beating the heat with cold milkshakes, fruit mixes and chilled smoothies.

Teams work hard to provide great customer service so customers will keep coming back, he said.

One of the ways to achieve that goal is providing low prices and quality products.

"You're always going to get quality, and you're not going to have pay an outrageous price," he said, mentioning some parents can't always afford to take their children out for a $6 ice cream cone. "Here you'll pay anywhere from $2 to $7 for the most expensive item, not including the party trays."

As a young store owner, Couch said he hopes to have many more years at Gone Bananas - growing the brand, increasing the stores and maintaining the fresh, quality food.

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