BY MADELYN SCHWARTZ, STAFF WRITER ’20
Playa Bowls, a chain of shops specializing in healthy and tropically-colored acai bowls and smoothies, became a recent obsession at the Shore this summer. The idea of Playa Bowls was first conceived when Abby Taylor, a Rutgers graduate, was inspired by her surfing travels and the exotic food she discovered. It wasn’t until she and fellow Rutgers alum Robert Giuliani experimented with recipes and planned out their small business that the idea of Playa Bowls was born.
With hard work and drive, the first Playa Bowls opened in Belmar in 2014. Little did Taylor and Giuliani know that their tiny fruit shop would become a Jersey Shore phenomenon . After doing so well at the Belmar location, three more shops were opened in Pier Village, Bay Head, and on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick. Another Playa Bowls shop is on its way to Red Bank, anticipated to open later this fall.
This past summer, Playa Bowls was a must-try. Lines were out the door almost daily and people could not get enough of their signature acai bowls. Playa bowls not only fit perfectly in the palm of a hand, but are also healthy and a good snack to keep someone hydrated on a hot beach day.
In addition to the acai berry smoothie base, the toppings atop the smoothie base add texture to the fit-in-your-hand style plastic bowl. Toppings include granola, nutella, banana, coconut shavings, strawberries, blueberries, and many more. Along with the regular acai bowls, Playa has also created other bowls using pitaya (also known as dragon fruit), hemp seeds and coconut.
After interviewing many RBR students, it seems that teenage girls go to Playa Bowls more often than teenage boys. Most of the boys interviewed about Playa Bowls had heard of the shop, but had never visited. On the other hand, the girls interviewed knew all about it and loved it. Many enjoy Playa’s acai bowls because they are affordable, filling, healthy and delicious.
“I like them because they are an affordable, easy food for teens that isn’t expensive. Plus, it’s healthier than ice cream and looks good on Instagram,” said freshman Michaela Devine of Shrewsbury.
“They (Playa Bowls) have created a social media frenzy, and teens want to catch on to the trend,” said freshman Taylor Petruzzelli of Little Silver.
With its Instagram boasting over 25,000 followers, there is no doubt that social media influences Playa Bowls’ sales.
On the contrary, some believe that Playa Bowls is too expensive for what you are ultimately purchasing.
“It seems like overpriced fruit to me,” remarked freshman Sophie Wright of Little Silver.
As fall begins, Playa Bowls isn’t waiting around until the sun comes out to make money. Playa has come out with fall-flavored bowls, including the Harvest and Caramel Apple bowls, that compliment the season, but stay true to the Playa smoothie bowl originality. With Playa’s success, the little Jersey Shore chain will probably branch out to other parts of New Jersey and the United States. Overall, it’s safe to say that Playa will most likely expand quickly, but always stay true to its Jersey Shore heritage.