By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
INDIAN HARBOUR BEACH -- When Greg Makridakis first opened South Beach Fitness in 2006, he wanted to offer his customers more than just a gym.
"This isn't just a place for working out," said Mr. Makridakis, an Indian Harbour Beach resident. "We have pretty well-laid plans for the future."
Once located in the Indialantic Walmart shopping center, South Beach Fitness recently moved to its current location, next to the Sherwin Williams Paint store, along A1A in Indian Harbour Beach. This move allowed Mr. Makridakis to expand his business in the way he wanted to.
"We have a great space," Mr. Makridakis said. "We just need to develop it more with the café."
With healthy, yet delicious, food and drink options, South Beach Fitness Café has something on the menu to please even the most discriminating palate.
"Our café is different in that we have a lot of low-calorie or zero-calorie drinks and supplements that we incorporate into the menu," Mr. Makridakis said. "We chose this menu mostly because we like to eat healthy."
The South Beach Fitness Café is currently open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.; however, Mr. Makridakis said that he hopes to expand those hours and eventually add a drive-thru service.
"It's perfect because there are only a few places around here where you can add something like that," Mr. Makridakis added.
The South Beach Fitness Café is not just for members of the gym, but for the public.
"Basically, you can start out your morning with a 'Coffechino' -- which is a zero-calorie, coffee-flavored, health supplement drink, along with a breakfast burrito," Mr. Makridakis said. "It's the perfect way to start the day because there are no calories, and there isn't a lot of creamer."
Mr. Makridakis said that, for lunch, customers can enjoy a Spark energy drink, which is a healthy and popular B-Vitamin supplement drink, manufactured by Advacare.
Customers at the South Beach Fitness Café can also enjoy wraps, salads, bowls and sandwiches for lunch.
"I would recommend the Roast Beef Panini, which is my personal favorite, or the Cilantro Lime Wrap," Mr. Makridakis added.
The Cilantro Lime wrap is filled with generous portions of chicken, brown rice, spinach, cilantro, feta cheese and topped off with the café's own cilantro lime dressing.
The menu also includes vegetarian options, like the Veggie Burger.
"All of our meats are prepared here with no salt, no additives, no preservatives," Mr. Makridakis said. "We use bread with no preservatives and we cook our chicken fresh every day."
A true business entrepreneur, Mr. Makridakis said that opening the café alongside the gym has provided him with the perfect test market.
"We see our customers every day, so we are able to experiment and try things to see what they like," Mr. Makridakis said. "You can continuously test on your customers; you don't have just one shot."
Mr. Makridakis said he is also blessed to have a perfect marketing team for his café -- his trainers at the gym.
"More and more, our trainers are recommending our food," he added. "They are eating it, and all of us are eating it; we know that our food is good."
And with nearly 2,000 members at his gym, Mr. Makridakis has quite the audience to let him know what to tweak in his menu.
"One of the biggest challenges in opening up the café has been changing the perceptions and getting people to try new things," Mr. Makridakis said. "I think a lot of people are used to the glitz and glamour of fast food -- it looks shiny and really good on the outside, but there are no nutrients, there is nothing on the inside."
Mr. Makridakis said that each menu item is a healthy and fulfilling alternative to what people can find at fast food chains.
"We have had many accomplishments since we opened the café," Mr. Makridakis said. "The biggest one thus far has been finding and keeping Brett, our cook."
In addition to being an excellent alternative to fast food, South Beach Fitness Café's prices are just as competitive.
"The average wrap is $5.50," Mr. Makridakis added.
As Mr. Makridakis continues to test and perfect the South Beach Fitness Café, he is also expanding the South Beach Fitness line.
"We also have a full auto spa, where people can have their cars washed and detailed while they work out," Mr. Makridakis said. "We are also developing a massage area and expanding our Kid's Zone. It's kind of a time saver - that is what we are trying to accomplish."
The South Beach Fitness Café is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You do not need to be a member of South Beach Fitness to eat at the café.
For more information about the South Beach Fitness Café, visit www.sobofitness.com/sobe-cafe.php, or call (321) 779-4041.