People & Profiles

Alum launches Brazil-inspired health food restaurant

By Ellie Benton

A man wearing a black shirt hands a smoothie across the counter to a customer

Shortly before graduating with his master’s degree from the Quinlan School of Business, Gabriel Fleury (BBA ’18, MSF ’21) launched a health restaurant focused on the acai bowls of his youth in Brazil.

Deep Purpl started three years ago as just one location in the Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago. Today, it is a national chain, with eight locations in the Chicago area, including one across the street from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus and one a few blocks from the Water Tower Campus. Deep Purpl also has locations in San Francisco, Austin, and New York City.

“Quinlan helped me become a successful and well-rounded business owner,” said Fleury.

Below, he discusses his business journey, including a major setback because of COVID-19, and the value of his Quinlan education.

A man wearing a black T-shirt sits in a chair and looks down at a smoothie in his hands
Quinlan School of Business alumnus Gabriel Fleury recently opened his restaurant Deep Purpl in Rogers Park just steps from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. Deep Purpl focuses on acai bowls, smoothies and other health conscious foods. (Photo: Lukas Keapproth)

What was your journey to Quinlan?

Growing up in Brazil, I knew I wanted to live in a major U.S. city, and I really liked Chicago. I also wanted to attend a well-ranked business program, as I knew I wanted to start a business afterward. Loyola was a good match and helped me make the connections and get the education I needed to start my business.

What made you want to start Deep Purpl?

While in Chicago, I found I had a connection to the acai berry. It is grown in my home country of Brazil, and I had missed it since moving. My idea then was to create a restaurant named Deep Purpl, where people could enjoy the acai I had grown up eating. If I was going to live somewhere other than my home country, it needed to be for something I loved doing.

Our acai from Brazil is organic and completely vegan since it is only grown sustainably in the Amazon. It was important to me to have the acai be as fresh and quality as possible, and we do not use any mixes, just straight acai.

How did COVID-19 impact Deep Purpl?

Deep Purpl opened on January 24, 2020, weeks before the pandemic began. We had to shut down everything. We closed, and I went home. I didn’t know when or if we would reopen. It was tough.

Short-term, the pandemic crushed Deep Purpl, and it was hard to see the positive. Long-term, I think the pandemic helped us get better deals around Chicago and in other cities. Without these deals, it would have been much harder for Deep Purpl to have expanded the way it has, and we are still growing.

Why focus on sustainability?

Sustainability is extremely important to me and Deep Purpl, especially as we grow. Currently, Deep Purpl has partnered with TooGoodToGo, a company who helps us reduce waste dramatically by providing a platform to sell our products that were not bought throughout the day at a discounted price. Through this process and other practices, Deep Purpl’s waste is close to zero, which is very important to me.

I intend to invest in more sustainable practices, including new reusable cups that customers can bring in and use multiple times for a discount. I am also working on implementing eco-friendly bags for customers to purchase and use from us. Overall, we’re going to try to create more sustainable activities for the business.

Tell me about your Rogers Park location.

Having a store next to Lake Shore Campus has been really cool! I have other stores on college campuses but having it at Loyola has been a different experience. Having the opportunity to open a store where there are so many memories for me is special. I spent four years here during college!

How has Quinlan helped your career?

Quinlan allowed me to become a well-rounded business student. I majored in economics and then got my graduate degree in finance, but when it comes to owning a store, you work in marketing, supply chain, accounting, taxes, everything. Quinlan gave me the flexibility to choose the classes that made Deep Purpl more likely to succeed.

I also really enjoyed the benefits Quinlan and Loyola provided to me. During my time there, my smaller class sizes allowed me to form great relationships with my professors. To this day, I will go to my professors from my time at Quinlan and ask them about ideas or other business operations, which is special.

Describe Quinlan in 10 words.

Engaging classes, flexible schedules, energetic, meaningful, caring, and friendly.

Read more stories from the Quinlan School of Business.