Bob Shallit

Float business adds watery wrinkle to Oak Park renaissance

Ryan Duey stands at the entrance to a room holding one of four tanks at Capitol Floats, which opens on Saturday. The tanks are 8-feet long and 5-feet wide.
Ryan Duey stands at the entrance to a room holding one of four tanks at Capitol Floats, which opens on Saturday. The tanks are 8-feet long and 5-feet wide. Bob Shallit

A new-age vibe is coming to Oak Park in coming weeks with the opening of a health bar serving acai bowls and a float center where customers can achieve deep relaxation by soaking in watery sensory deprivation tanks.

Capitol Floats, located at the site of a former bail bonds office at 3515 Broadway, is set to open Saturday and already is about half-booked for the day, said Ryan Duey, the business owner.

Patrons can use one of four tanks – each with their own changing rooms and showers – and spend an hour or so reclining in 10 inches of super-buoyant, heavily salted water.

“It can be just relaxing or you can have a profound experience,” said Duey, who left a sales job with the San Jose Earthquakes soccer club to launch this venture with partner Brandon Brodzky. “We say, ‘Let go of your expectations because every float will be unique and everyone is different.’ ”

He likens the experience to yoga or meditation – “practices” that can have an immediate payoff but deliver more rewards over time.

Typical float sessions cost $65, with patrons reclining in long tanks designed to eliminate external stimuli, including sound and light. After exiting, customers are invited to relax in a lounge that features a “tea bar” fashioned from an old piano, a reading area and an arts corner with an easel for those “who want to tap into their creative side,” Duey said.

The adjoining business, Vibe Health Bar, is set to open March 1 and will specialize in breakfast bowls made with acai, a “superfood” berry from Brazil.

The bowls make for a quick, nutritious meal, said Blake Houston, the business owner. His favorite from the five bowls on the menu: “Beez Nuts,” with acai sandwiched by granola and topped with local bee pollen, honey and almond butter.

Also available: smoothies, wraps, several kinds of fermented Kombucha teas and “cognitive” coffee.

The latter is regular coffee, provided by Sacramento’s Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters, that Vibe staffers blend with butter from grass-fed cows, highly concentrated coconut oil, mushroom powder, and flavorings including cacao and vanilla.

“It gives you sustained energy throughout the day instead of the caffeine spike and crash,” said Brodzky, a 30-year-old entrepreneur who last year acquired and completely renovated the building that houses both businesses and is a partner in each.

“I think it’s going to be a big hit,” Brodzky said of the coffee offerings, which are based on Bulletproof Coffee that was introduced in this country in 2009.

The new businesses are the latest – and perhaps unlikeliest – ventures to start up in a once-blighted neighborhood quickly becoming a haven for local hipsters.

Mikuni eyes expansion

Sacramento’s Mikuni Restaurant Group is looking to expand its operations into the Bay Area.

The 28-year-old company, which is set to open its eighth local operation this summer in Folsom, is scouting new sites in Walnut Creek, Santa Clara and San Jose, said Haru Sakata, Mikuni’s chief executive officer.

“We want to try out the Bay Area, but we want to make sure the timing is right,” Sakata said.

The sushi chain almost executed a lease deal recently in Walnut Creek, he said, but opted to pass on that location after executives visited the area multiple times and decided there wasn’t enough business activity there.

When Mikuni does expand, the plan will be to stick with a company philosophy that emphasizes doing right by employees, customers and the community, said Sakata, a native of Japan who is the brother-in-law of Mikuni owner Taro Arai.

“Maybe this sounds a little too Asian,” he said of the company mission, “but we think if you take care of people, they will take care of you back.”