Gut Reaction: Playa Bowls’ acai bowls are authentic, appetizing and just plain awesome

(From left to right) Glassboro resident Julie Kilman, 33, and Elizabeth Seou, 30, enjoy free acai bowls at the Playa bowls grand opening on Jan. 26. -Staff Photo/Justin Decker

Similar to Rowan Boulevard, the Playa Bowls franchise just keeps growing.

A series of surf and ocean inspired restaurants best known for their acai bowls — think very thick smoothies topped with granola, fruit, peanut butter or other toppings originating in South America — opened a new store front on Rowan Boulevard this past week between the 7-Eleven and Ry’s Bagels.

During its grand opening I got a chance to talk to the franchise owners, Robert Guiliani, 34, and Abby Taylor, 27, and try one of there acai bowls myself. The two started the Playa Bowls brand after meeting.

“So after college I did a bunch of traveling and surfing and everywhere I went they had acai bowls and I just kinda got hooked and when I came back I was making them all the time with my family and friends and me and Rob where like lets just try like a little cart to see if they like it,” Taylor said. “Thats where we started and it just blew up.”

Since their first storefront, which opened in Belmar, N.J., the franchise has continued to spread, including opening locations at Rutgers University.

They brought the franchise to Rowan when the requests were going through the roof.

“When we put up Instagram posts students request that we come to their schools so Rowan just made sense,” Guiliani said.

During the grand opening, students seemed to have a great reaction to the chic interior modeled after South American ocean-side shops. Surfboards and sea fairing themed trinkets repurposed as seating and tables for customers make Playa Bowls stand out aesthetically on a boulevard full of orange and brown restaurant interiors. I’m looking at you Prime Burgers!

The menu itself host’s a plethora of creative smoothies, juices and granola bowls. I myself got a protein rich “Power Bowl,” covered in bananas and sautéed in peanut butter. It cost $10 and helped me push through a morning where I had accidentally skipped breakfast.

With prices in mind, Playa bowls can be quite expensive. The least costly bowls start in the $8 range but additional toppings can add to the bill if used.

Prices aside, one of the first customers of the new storefront sophomore elementary education major Virgina Alalcur, lauded Playa Bowls for using organic and healthy ingredients in their smoothies.

“I’m excited that we have such a healthy [food] option ready for us now,” Alalcur said.

While the menu at Rowan does not differ from any other Playa Bowls store, next week the franchise will be adding Poké Bowls — like a deconstructed sushi bowl — to their menus at select locations, one being the store on Rowan Boulevard.

Overall, the diversity of the menu and use of real, organic ingredients in their smoothies makes Playa Bowls one of the best food vendors on Rowan Boulevard. Even though the prices may be slightly expensive for the average college student the atmosphere brings a needed sweetening to the boulevard.

I look forward to seeing what Mr. Guiliani and Ms. Taylor have in store for their flagship franchise in the future, because I will be returning to Playa Bowls hungry for more.


5 out of 5 stars

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