BY JANICE LLANES FABRY
Summer is here and it’s time to ride the tide to a healthy beach-like eatery right in downtown. Playa Bowls, which opened this spring at 18 Purdy Avenue, offers a cornucopia of delicious eats and drinks for every time of the day.
The franchises have caught a wave of success along the Eastern seaboard and as far west as Arizona. Co-owners Jarrod Jackette and Steve Dimovski had a hunch Rye would be the perfect setting for yet another one, touted as “your slice of summer, anytime.”
“Having grown up in Mount Pleasant, I always knew Rye as a beach town with Playland and Oakland Beach and it always had a great walking downtown area,” said Jackette. “Rye’s a great spot with a young community interested in finding healthy options.”
This is Jackette’s third franchise with Dimovski, whom he met ten years ago when their sons started playing baseball together. Dimovski, an architect, was introduced to Playa Bowls when he designed the renovation for one in Pleasantville. After piquing Jackette’s interest, they opened one in Fairfield in 2018, then Darien last year.
A former commodities trader who decided to invest in the benefits of acai and pitaya instead, Jackette noted, “Our first store was successful from the get-go. Like Rye, Fairfield has a great downtown and plenty of beaches. Last year in Darien, our big outdoor seating and to-go business helped us break records.”
Playa Bowls’ creative menu is divided into three categories — bowls, smoothies, and juices. All their signature bowls are lined with granola, then a smoothie blend with one or more of seven bases: acai, the increasingly popular South American berry; pitaya or dragon fruit; coconut; green/kale; chia; banana; and steel-cut organic oatmeal. Top that with another layer of granola, then add fresh fruit, nuts, or a drizzle of honey, Nutella, or agave.
The most popular bowls include Nutella Acai topped with banana, strawberry, coconut flakes and, the pièce de résistance, Nutella drizzle; Electric Mermaid with a pitaya base topped with kiwi, pineapple, mango, coconut flakes, and honey; Lola, a kale blend also topped with pineapple, mango, coconut flakes, and honey; and Jetty, a chia pudding blend topped with berries and honey.
A variety of fresh juices run the gamut from Mermaid Fuel with kale, apple, and mint to Endless Summer with carrot and ginger. Among the other add-ons are raw cacao nibs, whey protein, spirulina, and wheat grass.
As far as the completely renovated space on Purdy, formerly a decades-old salon, Dimovski oversaw the construction. In line with the Playa Bowls aesthetic, a coastal, groovy vibe was created with reclaimed wood, surf boards, colorful seating, rattan chairs, and pastel-colored images painted by Ramona Schatzer, the artist behind all 115 franchises.
It was Jersey Shore natives and avid surfers Robert Giuliani and Abby Taylor who developed the Playa Bowls concept. They discovered acai and pitaya bowls during surfing trips to Central America, California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Subsequently, they set up a pop-up stand with a blender and a fridge in their hometown and lured new fans to bowls of their own with flavors all their own.
The operation focuses on nutrition, community, and the environment. The franchises work on recycling solutions and use ECO bowls, spoons, lids, and straws to minimize the environmental footprint. In addition, all the stores are built from 50% refurbished or reclaimed material and utilize only LED lighting.
To foster community spirit, they hire only local employees. Jackette and Dimovski have employed over 100 16- to 22-year-old high school and college students. They are also proactive in supporting community causes, from “dine to donate” fundraising to athletic leagues.
Playa Bowls’ look and music definitely appeal to a young demographic, but plenty of Baby Boomers are finding their way to this fun and nutritious dining destination, too.
<The restaurant is open from 9-9 seven days a week. For more information, visit Playabowls.com or call 305-4244.>