South Block will take its smoothies and açai bowls beyond the DC region

South Block's menu includes "skin care smoothies," cold-pressed juices, green smoothies and acai bowls. (Courtesy South Block)

Arlington, Virginia’s South Block has set its sights on expanding beyond the D.C. region, and now has the financial backing to do it.

South Block’s first smoothie, pressed juice and açai bowl shop opened in Arlington’s Clarendon neighborhood in 2011, and the chain has already grown to 15 locations in the D.C. area. In July 2023, its new location opened to long lines at Amazon’s HQ2 in Pentagon City.

Private equity firm Savory Fund, which invests in locally-based food concepts eyeing expansion, has backed South Block, though neither Savory Fund or South Block founder Amir Mostafavi has disclosed financial terms.

South Block initially plans to enter one or two East Coast markets, and get to 50 locations within the next five to six years.

“We wanted to bring in a strategic investment partner just to help us navigate growth on a larger scale,” Mostafavi said. “It is not easy to grow a business and we felt Savory not only could provide financial backing, but also tons of added experience and know-how to our team.”

With more than a decade of experience honing South Block’s local shops, Mostafavi said the timing for expansion is right.

“We feel we have the best in class product. We never take short cuts or use açaí, sorbets or put ice in our smoothies,” he said. “But more importantly we have created an amazing company culture that we want to build upon, create new jobs and keep spreading good vibes.”

South Block currently has more than 300 employees at its stores in the D.C. area.

It’s the first investment for Savory’s Savory Fund III, with $200 million to invest in emerging restaurant concepts.

“Their menu is healthy without being intimidating, their systems are effective and sound, and their devoted following is incredible to watch,” said Andrew Smith, co-founder of Savory.

South Block’s beginning actually goes further back than its first shop in Clarendon in 2011. Mostafavi started his juice business on the George Washington University campus, with Campus Fresh in 2006.

South Block’s menus include “skin care smoothies,” cold-pressed juices and green smoothies, along with its popular açai bowls.

Mostafavi also runs a nonprofit called Fruitful Planet, which purchases and donates fruits and vegetables to community programs.

South Block’s name came from its first location, on the “south block” at 11th and Garfield Street in Clarendon.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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