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Start Your Business Success Stories

I Left Wall Street & NYC After 9/11 to Start a Health-Focused Restaurant

I Left Wall Street & NYC After 9/11 to Start a Health-Focused Restaurant Credit: Rush Bowls

In 2001, my personal and professional lives were on a trajectory. I spent over a decade working my way through the ranks of various financial institutions on Wall Street, and at the time, I was the Global Director of US Fixed Income Derivative Trading for the National Australia Bank. In May, our family of three grew to four with the birth of our daughter. Needless to say, things were going great for me. Then came September 11.

Like most Americans, my life was changed by 9/11. Many people lost friends, family and colleagues that day, myself included. It was a terrifying experience; my wife actually worked a block away from the Towers, and thankfully walked away unharmed. I woke up on September 12 with a new perspective on life – you never know what will happen in life so you should live it to the fullest. It was the catalyst I needed to leave my Wall Street career, move my family to Boulder, Colorado, and hit the ground running with a new professional venture.

Prior to 9/11, my wife and I had talked about leaving New York one day. When our children were born we began to notice the lack of healthy eating options for kids in the city. Realistically, the only healthy way for children to eat in New York was home-cooked meals. We regularly discussed moving to Boulder because it had all the elements of New York that we loved – progressive and full of culture – while also being a town filled with quality learning institutions, an appreciation for the outdoors, and an abundance of people actively pursuing healthier lifestyles.

We officially moved to Boulder in 2003. Although I was uncertain what my next business venture would be, I knew I wanted it to be in a sector that's foreign to me and one that would have a positive impact in peoples' lives.

Around the time we moved to Colorado, a friend of mine had opened a smoothie shop. In the early 2000s, smoothies were just beginning to become popular go-tos for healthy eating. Smoothies are great for snacks, but they aren't very filling. I loved his creations, but they always left me with wanting more. I wanted a product that had the flavor, nutrition, versatility, and the convenience of a smoothie, but in a meal form. Thus, Rush Bowls was born.

A "Rush Bowl" is a healthy meal-on-the-go that is made up of thick, creamy, all-natural fruit, topped with organic granola and honey, and blended with protein, vitamins and other nutritious ingredients. While we do offer smoothies, our main draw is over 30 different nutritious bowls that make an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Our bowls are available in vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and dairy-free options, and anything can be custom-made to cater to any and all dietary needs.

Since opening our first location 12 years ago, Rush Bowls has cultivated a loyal following of people interested in living healthy lifestyles. In order to reach more consumers, we launched a wholesale line which includes frozen grab-and-go bowls that are sold at select retailers. This year, we commenced our franchise initiative, opening up opportunities for new entrepreneurs to bring Rush Bowls to their communities. With sales of natural and healthy food expected to surpass a trillion dollars in 2017, we've seen an influx of interest in Rush Bowls from around the country as entrepreneurs seek healthier franchise opportunities to meet growing market demand.

While I was extremely successful on Wall Street, I know I made the right decision to leave finance to become a business owner. There have certainly been challenges, but in addition to providing Colorado with quick and healthy meals, Rush Bowls has also given me the opportunity to be closer to my family. We regularly hike, ski and run together, and of course we are very conscious of what we put into our bodies. My original goal of moving to Boulder was to ensure that my kids lived active and fulfilling lives, and I like to think I've more than accomplished that.

About the author: Andrew Pudalov founded Rush Bowls in 2004 after leaving his job on Wall Street and moving to Boulder, Colorado. When he isn't busy running Rush Bowls, Andrew and his family enjoy hiking, running, skiing and enjoying the beauty of Colorado.