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FRIDAY FLAVOR: Zeke's Beans & Bowls in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, NC

The owner was laughed at when he pitched the idea of Zeke's. Now, the restaurant has a local legacy.

NORFOLK, Va. — As we edge closer to the summer season, many start to think about their next health kick. 

Zeke's Beans & Bowls hopes to make the goal of eating healthy an easy one. 

"Zeke's was started by my partner Mike in 2013, with the idea to put poke and açaí together," said part-owner Brian Zawacki. 

Mike Schirmer told 13News Now he was in Puerto Rico when he tried his first açaí bowl, "And I thought, we need something like this in Virginia Beach," he said.

The first Zeke's Beans & Bowls location opened in Virginia Beach on Norfolk Avuene. At that time, açaí wasn't a familiar dish. 

"We were laughed at by our food distributor, because they were like, 'Açaí bowls, poke bowls, it's not going to work,'" said Schirmer. 

He said he even doubted himself, saying if Zeke's failed, he would've turned the spot into a bar. 

But Zeke's is far from a failure. 

"We have people who come in all the time and have never had an açaí bowl before, and now they can't go a week without one," Zawacki smiled. 

Their menu is unique, with flavors for any palate; but acai bowls are the most popular. 

The breakfast bowl is a customer favorite. In the mood for more of a lunch? Grab a poke bowl. They have spicy poke bowl options too! 

A big seller for Zeke's, and the 13News Now crew, is their coffee. The restaurant serves unique flavors like a cinnamon honey latte. And, if you're a coffee connoisseur, they have pour-over coffee for you! '

"We give people options that you're not going to find at Starbucks or a diner," Zawacki said. "Pour-overs are popular because you get that rich, authentic coffee with the experience." 

At Zeke's, it's not only about the excellent food. It's about making your day easier. 

Even dubbing Zeke's as "Chick-Fil-A efficient," Schirmer said, "If you want your food, you want it quick. You want something healthy. You can come here get a poke bowl, açaí bowl, a pit, and be out of here in five minutes."

If you don't want to rush out, that's okay too! 

"We try to provide a space for people to enjoy our food, but also create," Zawacki said. 

Inside Zeke's, artwork lines the walls, and the creative atmosphere is evident (and not just for the customers). 

"From the time I open to the time I close, I've seen people create artwork. We really try and facilitate a space that encourages people to create," Zawacki said. 

Zeke's is more than just a creative space to grab a bite. It's a salute to a local. 

"We wanted to have something that meant a lot to a lot of people," Schirmer said, talking about the name behind his restaurant. 

"Zeke Sanders," he continued. "He was a professional surfer, skater, great person, one of my good friends, and he passed away, and he was a major influence on my life," Schirmer said. "We figured it was fitting to name our restaurant after Zeke."

His memory is living on in a significant way, with three locations across the area:

  • Virginia Beach: 616 Norfolk Avenue 
  • Norfolk: 800 Granby Street
  • Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina: 534 Causeway Drive

A fourth location will be opening this May in Chesapeake!

"Every town needs a Zekes, and I think we'll get there in the next couple of years," Schirmer said. 

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