Hungry Surfer – Big Idea
Jason Mazzarone was a student and a surfer in Southern California. He’d get a little hungry after an afternoon of riding waves and would often stop at an acai bowl stand to grab a healthy meal. “They didn’t have this back East.” That’s when the lightbulb turned on – a business idea. He would bring the acai bowls back home to the East Coast – Long Island, New York.
“a what bowl?”
- Acai bowls are touted as an antioxidant-rich superfood prepared from puréed acai berries — which are fruits grown in Central and South America — and served as a smoothie in a bowl or glass, topped with fruit, nuts, seeds, or granola.
In order to test-out his idea, he added his acai bowls and smoothies to the menu at his family’s Italian Ice shop in New York. They were a hit! So, he opened up his own acai bowl store. The demand grew. A year later he had so much interest that the SoBol franchise was born.
Birth of a Franchise
- SoBol signed 34 franchise contracts a year after opening
- “We were getting 10 new organic leads per week, and they grew more rapidly with each new store”
- Existing owners were quickly eager to expand
- Many opening up 2nd and 3rd stories within their first few months own owning one
- Growth accelerated with increasing consumer interest
- 2021 à 52 franchises in 8 states and growing quickly
- Designed to operate more like a small mom & pop shop
- Entrepreneur’s Top New Franchise ranking in 2019 and 2020
- Entrepreneur’s Top Food Franchises of 2020
The “SoBol” Name
- “So” à So Cal … the Southern California influence
- “Bol” à bowl without the “w” …
- …because in addition to bowls they also sell smoothies and soups
Why So Popular?
- current health and wellness trends
- surging market for healthy alternatives to fast food
- appeal for many with dietary restrictions
- acai berry market forecasted to grow 13% a year reaching a $2 billion dollar industry by 2025, according to Market Data Forecast
- Growth attributed to increased awareness about foods we are eating
- “Mindful food consumption” has taken healthy food choices from fad to mainstream movement
- 70% of millennials are okay with a higher price tag for quality foods