New Jersey-based smoothie and acai bowl chain Playa Bowls started out as a small business on the Jersey Shore, then quickly grew into a franchise with multiple locations. The chain still operates with a franchise model with over 120 stores in other states and will be expanding around the nation with a significant investment from Tamarix Capital, helmed by veteran investor Mark Hauser.
Mark Hauser saw potential in Playa Bowls to become a household name given the current state of the fast-casual sector of the restaurant industry, which is becoming increasingly health-conscious. As more people have grown weary of preparing all their meals and snacks at home in the pandemic era, Hauser believes Playa Bowls is poised for exponential growth and transforming into a major national brand in the coming years. With an eye for brands on an upward trajectory to becoming more than just a local or regional niche, Hauser’s track record in investing in lower-middle markets proves that Tamarix Capital is often ahead of the curve.
Playa Bowls was founded by pro surfers Abby Taylor and Robert Guiliani when they would be exhausted after long surf sessions that required a great deal of endurance. When the duo discovered acai bowls, the distinctive mauve smoothie bowls made with a dark purple “superfruit” found in South and Central America and often topped with plant-based proteins like nuts and seeds, they immediately wanted to take this healthy superfood home. This led to the opening of the first Playa Bowls store in Belmar, where their smoothies, acai bowls, and pitaya bowls (similar to acai bowls, but made with dragonfruit) were an instant hit with the local community.
While Taylor and Guiliani initially had their fellow athletes and their unique nutritional needs in mind, they soon discovered all types of customers loved Playa Bowls’ offerings. As lifestyles have become more demanding and more people seek out healthy options to go, or at least quickly prepared, customers flocked to Playa Bowls to get their fill of healthy food made fast and the business quickly grew beyond the Garden State.
Mark Hauser felt Playa Bowls was an excellent fit for Tamarix Capital as the demand for healthy versions of fast food is increasing, and the brand was also building a marketable lifestyle that set them apart from other juice and smoothie chains. With a focus on environmental responsibility and refusing to cut corners on quality ingredients, Playa Bowls could very well set a trend that has a ripple effect on the global restaurant industry.
The alacrity in which the brand grew a dedicated clientele stood out to Hauser, who feels that the brand is likely to become a household name. With the funds from Tamarix Capital, Playa Bowls plans to open more locations in the United States and increase its overall brand presence.