Playa Bowls, the hot spot for students to grab their smoothie bowl fixings of acai, pitaya, greens, toppings and more, recently moved from their old downtown Montclair site to a bigger location on 28 S. Park St, while their old location on Church Street remains a different smoothie bowl place.
The owners of Playa Bowls, Robert Giuliani and Abby Taylor, continue their Hawaiian-inspired style at their new downtown spot with beach decor, such as a surfboard table surrounded by a bohemian-pillowed bench and a tropical plant mural hand-painted by Taylor.
Carina Duffy, manager and brand ambassador at the new store, said they have many student customers, so they offer a 10 percent discount if students show school identification.
“Montclair has always been a really cool area,” Duffy said. “[Rob and Abby] are really, really particular in where they want to open in terms of location being a huge reason to the success of a company. You want to make sure you are in a good spot, and with the [Montclair State] university right here, students love this stuff. It’s something fresh, it’s something new, it’s healthy, it’s good for you. We offer deals with the students all of the time.”
Duffy said Playa Bowls is also interested in working with school organizations and charities for fundraising.
“It’s really nice that they offer different events and promotions for college students,” said sophomore psychology major Giulia Santisi.
Santisi said she likes the Nutella bowls with almond butter on top.
“It satisfies my sweet tooth, but it’s not as unhealthy as getting a cupcake,” Santisi said.
Another student, junior psychology major Francesca Mecionis, thought the discount offered is great.
“I feel like this is an up and coming thing, the fruit bowls,” Mecionis said. “It is pretty expensive. You can go and get like a $10 bowl, but if there is a discount, even if it’s only a dollar or two, that adds up over time.”
Mecionis said she has only been to the company’s older location in Montclair and loves the Nutella bowls offered. She likes that Playa Bowls gives discounts to students.
“I think the old one was pretty small and there really wasn’t a lot of parking,” Mecionis said. “The other location has more accessibility.”
Caira Abdelrahman, a Montclair State student and previous employee for Playa Bowls when it was on Church Street, said the reason for the move was because of managing issues and the store being the most successful of the franchise.
“Playa Bowls is a very well known acai shop and within a year made a successful debut on Church Street in Montclair,” said Abdelrahman, who remains an employee at the previous location which is now rebranded as Sweet Berry Bowls. “In the beginning it was fun working for them as we instantly became the most successful store that year, but as time went on, to me it seemed to cause frustration to the owners who now opened up the new location on Park Street.”
Frankie Lo Piccolo, partner at Sweet Berry Bowls, confirmed that the owners of Sweet Berry Bowls parted with the Playa Bowl brand and rebranded for “business reasons.”
As far as Duffy knows, she said the space was more of what they were looking for as far as being bigger and more accessible and that was the reason behind the move. Duffy said they are not affiliated in any way with Sweet Berry Bowls which is currently at Playa Bowl’s previous location.
Along with the expansion of its franchise, Playa Bowls will soon be serving new menu options like Poke Bowls, which Duffy said is Hawaiian-styled sushi.
Playa Bowls opened their first location in Belmar, New Jersey and has since expanded to more than 20 locations on the East Coast. Customers often publish pictures of their aesthetically pleasing bowls served with the Instagram hashtag, #GoBowlsDeep.