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Franchise Times Gives An Inside Look at 4 Growing Acai Bowl Concepts

November 15, 2021

Frutta Bowls was featured in Franchise Times Nov/Dec Print Edition for a comparison of 4 growing Acai bowl concepts. Check it out:

Frutta Bowls

The concept: “Our goal is to provide as good for you a meal as you want,” said Kelly Roddy, CEO of WOWorks, which owns Frutta Bowls. Customers can opt for a healthy bowl of fruit, granola or vegetables or, if they want to be indulgent, add honey or Nutella. The brand does best in younger, more affluent markets, particularly college towns, where Roddy said consumers have a better understanding of healthy food. 

The stats: The pandemic gave all WOWorks brands a lift, particularly Frutta Bowls. At one point, 70 percent of sales came through delivery, and the brand kept those customers, said Roddy. WOWorks, also the parent company of Saladworks, acquired Frutta Bowls in late 2020, and the concept is up to 40 locations. The average store is around 2,000 square feet, and the initial investment range is $162,700 to $384,892.

The competition: The brand is concentrated in the Northeast, which puts it in direct competition with Playa Bowls. Many stores have a homey feel, with communal tables and couches, which sets it apart from competitors focused on small stores and to-go sales. 

The challenge: Much of the planned expansion will come from new franchisees, but equipment shortages are holding back growth. “Anything that’s automated is behind,” said Roddy. In addition to filling out the Northeast, Frutta Bowls will open its first West Coast stores in Los Angles next year and it’s looking at opportunities in the Midwest.

Rush Bowls

The concept: This meal-in-a-bowl franchise is narrowly focused on fruit bowls and smoothies, but is diverse in the types it offers across “destination,” “endurance” and “wellness” menu segments. Acai berries are a core item, along with matcha, and the PB&J bowl is made with peanut butter ground in front of the customer. Calorie counts are less than 400 for most items, and Rush even offers a “Bow Wow” bowl of peanut butter and froyo for dogs.

The stats: Franchising since 2004, Rush Bowls has 35 locations across the United States and another 15 in the works. The original location in Boulder, Colorado, and another in Denver are operated by corporate. The stores are small, at 500 to 1,200 square feet, and usually staffed with two or three employees. The investment range for a single location is $194,000 to $556,000, including a $39,000 franchise fee. 

The competition: Aiming for national brand status, Rush Bowls has a lot of competitors. Andrew Pudalov, founder and CEO, noted Vitality Bowls (70-plus locations) and Tropical Smoothie Cafe (1,000 stores) as challengers in the space but said Rush’s small store size and emphasis on to-go food sets it apart. 

The challenge: All corporate employees have worked in stores as managers, said Pudalov. Holding onto that corporate culture will be top of mind as the brand continues to expand its store count and corporate staff. He sees unconventional spaces such as airports and arenas as one of Rush Bowl’s next big avenues of growth. 

Playa Bowls

The concept: Avid surfers Robert Giuliani and Abby Taylor started Playa Bowls as a food stand outside a pizza place in Belmar, New Jersey, after enjoying the acai they had on surf trips to Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica. They put a “Jersey spin on it,” adding drizzles of Nutella, peanut butter and honey to blended bowls of acai, fruit and granola. 

The stats: Playa Bowls is up to 127 locations, mostly on the East Coast, but the brand is expanding west. The bowl business is dominant, but smoothies are as much as 30 percent of revenue for some stores in Louisiana, Texas and further west. The total investment for a single location ranges from $168,675 to $435,058, including a $35,000 franchise fee. 

The competition: “We don’t consider ourselves a true health food store,” said Taylor, who is chief marketing officer. Playa’s best seller is its Nutella Bowl, which sets it apart from others in the segment. Playa Bowls sources its own berries from Brazil and processes them in-house. And with a new majority investment from Tamarix Equity Partners and Pacific General Holdings, Playa has the backing to pick up speed.

The challenge: “Hiring high-quality labor,” both in-store and at the corporate office, said Giuliani, Playa’s CEO. It has agreements signed for 45 new locations, and it aims to open eight per month for the remainder of 2021. The corporate staff is busy supporting franchisee expansion, said Giuliani, but he hopes to scale the 22-store company footprint alongside franchised growth. 

Everbowl

The concept: This San Diego-based chain serves up bowls of “unevolved food that has been around forever,” said founder and CEO Jeff Fenster. Acai is the most popular base, but consumers can choose from several including pitaya, chia pudding and matcha. The bowls are fully customizable, and the company offers free samples so customers can find the mix of toppings that are right for them. 

The stats: Everbowl had 28 corporate locations when it began franchising in March 2020. It refranchised all of them, and franchisees have opened 20 new stores since then. At around 800 square feet, stores fit in conventional storefronts as well as college campuses, stadiums and other unconventional locations. The initial investment range for one store is $99,047 to $267,250.

The competition: Everbowl distinguishes itself as a done-for-you system, said Fenster. Franchisees need only to build a “white box,” and WeBuildstuff, a sister company, can transform the vacant real estate into a fully functioning Everbowl in as little as a week. “They even brought the spoons,” said Justin Sloan, a recent franchisee. 

The challenge: Everbowl has 190 stores in development. That’s a big number for a franchise with less than 50 units open. Fenster said his goal is to have an Everbowl in every state, and that his challenge will be to keep franchisee quality high without impeding growth.  

To read this article on Franchise Times, head on over to https://www.franchisetimes.com/franchise_focus/an-inside-look-at-4-growing-acai-bowl-concepts/article_e4a387cc-31d6-11ec-b6f2-d7a9719d6f12.html or check out their Nov/Dec 2021 print edition.

If you’d like more information about becoming a Frutta Bowls franchise owner, please complete our Contact Us form on https://franchise.fruttabowls.com/#contact.