Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — The team at Intelligent Nutrients may bring new meaning to the term “airplane food.”
The Minneapolis-based nutritional supplements company — founded four years ago by Aveda creator Horst Rechelbacher — is currently negotiating with the Minneapolis/St.Paul Airport for space to open one of its Wunderbars early next year.
Wunderbars combine a bar area serving smoothies, organic coffee and protein shakes with a “product experience center,” where customers can meet with nutritional consultants and sample new Intelligent Nutrients products.
Wunderbars also help clients find their “doshas” with a minute-long quiz, and the bar offers dosha-specific smoothies. A dosha, according to the tenets of ayurvedic medicine, is an elemental makeup group, and everyone falls into one of three groups: Vata, or air; Pitta, or fire, and Kapha, an Earth/water mix. Ayurvedic medicine teaches that keeping one’s dosha in balance creates and maintains harmony within the self, and between the self and its environment.
“Opening in airports is a natural progression of our mission,” said Rechelbacher. “People need good nutrition at all times, but especially when they’re about to get on a plane. Wunderbars aren’t just a place to drink; they’re a place to learn about products and proper nutrition.”
The Wunderbar concept is top of mind these days for Rechelbacher. While only one Wunderbar is now operating — it opened in Minneapolis in late June — Rechelbacher and his chief executive officer, Chantal Herrmann, hope to expand the concept to at least 10 cities next year. New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami are among the cities on the expansion plan, and Rechelbacher doesn’t plan to stop there.
“I want to be in every city in the world,” he said. “Why think small?”
Besides airports and freestanding retail stores, Herrmann and Rechelbacher say they eventually hope to take the concept into corporations, restaurants and grocery stores.
And the Wunderbar concept could generate some serious cash. While Rechelbacher and other company executives declined to comment on sales figures — “This company is just a baby, but it’s a healthy, kicking baby,” Rechelbacher said — industry sources estimated that the company’s business will top $40 million in 1999. Industry sources also said that if the Wunderbar concept grows as expected, it could add 40 percent or more to that total next year.
And Intelligent Nutrients isn’t your average vitamin vendor, according to Herrmann. Its products are designed to also complement the Aveda product line.
“Internal and external beauty elements should work together,” said Herrmann.
As reported recently, while Rechelbacher owns 100 percent of Intelligent Nutrients, The Estee Lauder Cos., Aveda’s parent company, reportedly has an option to buy up to 49 percent of the company.