If you can’t go to the beach, bring the beach to Baton Rouge.
That’s exactly what brothers Jordan and Beau VanGeffen plan to do with the upcoming opening of Playa Bowls in Arlington Marketplace. They’re hoping to open in the upcoming months, aiming for the end of summer or early fall.
The VanGeffen brothers – Northshore natives and LSU alumni – decided to bring Playa Bowls back to their home state after tasting their first Playa Bowl at the original location in New Jersey and falling in love with the brand.
“We wanted a concept that we believe in but also have the ability to grow with,” says Jordan VanGeffen.
When asked what makes Playa Bowls different than other options around town, Jordan attributes the distinction to three main reasons: “variety, quality, and atmosphere.”
Although most juice bars offer select açaí bowls, Playa Bowls will be first bowl-centered shop in Baton Rouge, putting the variety of bowls at the forefront of their menu. The menu will feature over 35 bowls across seven different bases, including açaí, pitaya, coconut, green (kale), chia, banana and steel-cut oatmeal. The store will also include nitro coffee on tap.
Bowls will contain 70% of the açaí pulp, compared to the 30-40% from other companies. The fresh fruit will be delivered daily, and there won’t be any additives to the açaí base. Playa Bowls specializes in açaí without fillers – an in-house blend – that gets its sweetness from a variety of toppings, instead of additives that increase sugar content.
“We offer the entire scale of healthiness,” says Jordan. “What’s cool about our bowls is you can make them as healthy as you want. You get a green base, remove the granola, and put coco flakes and put honey, and that’s going to be super healthy, low in sugar.”
Playa Bowls also offers options for those with a sweet tooth, offering toppings like honey, Nutella and coconut.
The brand, started in 2014 by a pair of surfers, has grown to over 70 storefronts across nine states and aims to continue the same atmosphere in each location.
“Our atmosphere is designed [to be] more kind of a beach vibe, as a place where you can go and hang out.”
The Baton Rouge location will be the first in Louisiana and will feature reclaimed wood, hand-painted murals and other Instagrammable designs. The VanGeffen brothers are aiming to staff 30-35 people and will probably start hiring at the end of July.
Jordan VanGeffen says their target demographic will be students, so being located 1.4 miles from LSU is the perfect location. The brothers are planning on getting involved in the community and at LSU, including Greek life and sports, as well as offering student discounts and hopefully a Tiger Cash payment option.
Although they’re primarily targeted toward students, the brothers want to include the entire Baton Rouge community.
“People work hard. They’re working all over the city. When they come in, [we] want it to feel like you’ve got a little twenty-minute vacation,” says Jordan.
Jordan and Beau VanGeffen hope to eventually grow the Playa Bowls brand across Louisiana. For now, they’re looking forward to opening day and doing giveaways, releasing swag, and offering free bowls to the first customers in line.
“One thing [the Playa Bowls locations] all have in common is [that] they throw very big grand opening parties, and we’re going to follow suit. We’re going to show them how Louisiana does it.”
Stay tuned for more updates after Playa Bowls finishes construction. You can also follow them on Instagram here.