While Jason Mazzarone was attending culinary school in San Diego, California, he had his first taste of an acai bowl. The sweet—and healthy—frozen treat was like nothing else he had ever tasted, and for the rest of that semester, he spent his time studying, surfing and eating acai bowls.
But when he returned to his hometown of Sayville, New York, this superfood was pretty hard to come by. That’s when he put his culinary education to work—Mazzarone decided to recreate the acai bowls he had in California himself. He had the rest of his family try them, and soon, he was selling these homemade acai bowls alongside Italian ices at the family’s mainstay business, Papa Mia’s Ice House. They were a hit there, too.
This was in 2014, and it was the beginning of SoBol. A year later, Mazzarone partnered with a family friend, Jim Kalomiris, who brought with him more than 20 years of experience in restaurant management, real estate and construction. Together, the two opened the first brick and mortar location for their fledgling company in their hometown of Sayville. Today, it’s clear these co-founders have found a recipe for success—one where healthy eating, flavor and convenience could finally live symbiotically.
“People expect a lot more out of their food options these days. They want fresh, premium ingredients. They want things to be homemade. They appreciate attention to detail. They want food they can feel good about. And they want it fast,” Mazzarone said. “By creating a place dedicated to acai bowls, I knew I could offer all of those things in one restaurant.”
An acai bowl begins as a smoothie blended to the thickness of a sherbet. The frozen acai berry is the key ingredient; it’s typically pureed with almond milk or coconut milk. But the true allure of the acai bowl, however, is the toppings, which typically include a variety of fresh sliced fruit, shaved coconut, nut butter and granola. This treat was virtually unheard of in Sayville before 2014, but thanks to SoBol, it was a concept that quickly caught on. Nearly a year later, they were opening up their second location.
“It all started with a fairly simple idea—I wanted to introduce my hometown to something I had fallen in love with while living in California. Our mission was to whip up the best acai bowls and smoothies—and that’s proven to be more than enough. At the time, between the two shops, we were selling about 1,000 acai bowls a day. It became clear to us pretty quickly that, although a new concept, this was something that people genuinely wanted and needed in their lives,” Mazzarone said.
Within two short years, their success skyrocketed, and Mazzarone and Kalomiris decided to expand through franchising.
“We realized that one of the advantages of franchising is there are already established roots. We had a lot of success in our hometown, and realized that this was the best move,” Mazzarone said. “Steve Beagelman, the president and CEO of SMB, was recommended to us, and the rest was a no-brainer. They were the perfect fit for what we’re trying to do, and they’ve already been an enormous help in guiding us. SMB has been a great teacher—not to mention the fact that they always answer their phone no matter what hour you call them anytime there’s some crazy question.”
Today, SoBol has come a long way since setting up shop at its flagship store in Sayville. According to Mazzarone, they’ve already sold 15 units throughout Long Island. That’s because, in addition to offering an in-demand product, SoBol model boasts a simple menu, proven recipes and a fiscally-sound system.
“By keeping our ingredient list small and our inventory simple, we’re able to focus on and perfect our core product,” Mazzarone said. “Aspiring café owners also have the opportunity to enjoy a year-round business. Seasons, diets and trends may change, but it’s clear that this heart-healthy, Vitamin C boosting antioxidant-rich food is here to stay.”
With room for growth throughout the East Coast and beyond, SoBol is now looking for passionate and health-conscious franchisees to help take the brand’s franchising efforts to the next level. And with an initial franchise fee of $15,000, SoBol's strength isn’t just in the product itself—its proven business model comes at an affordable cost, too.
“SoBol has a growing fan base throughout Long Island and beyond. And as the demand for healthy, on-the-go food only continues to increase, we’re eager to continue leading the pack in this booming segment throughout the country,” Mazzarone said. “This is just the beginning for SoBol.”