Six years ago, Robert Giuliani and Abby Taylor, two surfers from the Jersey Shore, established a smoothie shop. Armed with a blender, folding table, and a dream, they created Playa Bowls. In Belmar, New Jersey - one of NJ’s most popular beaches - the duo set up a smoothie station next to the pizza parlor that they lived above.
By making a deal with the pizza shop owner, they could sell their smoothies next door to get their dream up and running while also helping to pay the bills. Now in 2021, they have over 104 locations worldwide. They are a sustainable/ethically-focused business that is plant-based, eco-friendly, and staffed with locals.
I first heard about Playa Bowls when they were just a food truck in Belmar. I had always frequented Belmar in the summers due to its proximity to my home. I love smoothies, acai bowls, and virtually anything that can give me a new twist on getting my daily dose of fruit. I tried the bowls from their very first food truck (right next to the pizza shop that they started at) and was hooked ever since. By the following summer, they had an entire shop at that same location.
If you’ve never had a smoothie bowl, the ingredients are quite simple. Fresh fruit, some kind of superfruit powder like acai or pitaya, and toppings are the recipe for creating one of these delicious treats. I love smoothie bowls because they are not only nutritious but the perfect breakfast or lunch option. They’re light but provide tons of vitamins and health benefits in each scoop. I had never had a smoothie bowl before Playa, mainly because I didn’t know how key the superfruit element was. But I did know that the original store in Belmar was not going to be the last, and I wasn’t wrong.
The following year, I saw Playa Bowls popping up all over New Jersey. They were taking the entire Jersey Shore by storm. They opened locations in Seaside Heights, Asbury Park, Ocean City, and more. Not to mention, food trucks were driving all across the state to deliver premium smoothie bowls to customers across New Jersey. Right from their Belmar headquarters. A Playa Bowls smoothie truck was parked in Jackson, New Jersey - even closer to my home than Belmar - so I decided to check it out. It was located in an outlet shopping mall, the perfect place to grab a quick treat after a busy day of shopping. At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was not disappointed by the amazing quality. Despite being in a food truck, it felt like I was experiencing the same smoothie bowl from the Jersey Shore.
The Playa Bowl smoothie bowl is the freshest of its kind. Utilizing key bases such as acai, pitaya, and coconut - they build their bowls from the most unique ingredients. Then, they garnish the bowls with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and virtually any fruit that you could think of. My favorite part of each bowl centralizes around the toppings that are unique to each smoothie bowl as well. From Nutella, to honey, to peanut butter, these delicious additives are the cherry on top. You can also create your own smoothie bowl using their ingredients - making the process simpler. Since opening their doors, Playa Bowls has added to their list of bases by introducing kale, chia, banana, and even oatmeal. The possibilities behind these bowls are truly endless. If you’re keen on visiting, you can also opt for a smoothie or poke bowl at select locations!
Aside from having delicious food, the service has always been wonderful at Playa. As you can imagine, the summer months are extremely hectic. I have waited for 30-45 minutes for a bowl in the summer heat, so I can only imagine the stress that the workers must go through to churn out these popular meals. That being said, the environment is always friendly and tranquil. If the workers are feeling any stress, it certainly doesn’t show on their faces. Even on the busiest of days, I’ve never had my order mistaken or forgotten. I think that really speaks to the values of this business - they ensure quality food and service each time.
If “healthy food” isn’t your thing, I’m sure Playa Bowls will have a menu item that can change your mind. It truly doesn’t feel like you’re eating just fruit. Each bite is flavorful and fresh - making every bowl taste like a cheat day meal - without actually being one. I know it might be a little unusual to be so passionate about a bowl of fruit, but I feel the love that is poured into each of these smoothies. If you have the chance to visit one of their many locations, I highly recommend that you do. Especially, the original spot in Belmar.
From the surf-centered decor, tasty smoothie bowls, and relaxing atmosphere, Playa Bowls is my go-to food truck or restaurant during the summer. The bowls are some of the best I’ve had and are locally sourced. Support your small businesses this spring and summer by checking out a local food truck or eatery - the experience is so much more fulfilling for your belly and mind!
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