Playa Bowls expands into Louisiana with Baton Rouge shop

    Brothers Beau and Jordan VanGeffen are bringing the first Louisiana franchise of Playa Bowls to Arlington Marketplace, at the corner of West Lee and Burbank drives

    They aim to open their superfruit cafe, whose name means “beach” in Spanish, with roughly 30 employees before LSU classes begin in the fall. The cafe is located in the shopping center between Orange Theory and MID Tap.

    Jordan VanGeffen says they wanted to be in Arlington Marketplace because they like the tenant mix and its proximity to LSU, adding they plan to target the college and millennial market through Instagram. Construction on the 1,200-square-foot cafe is expected to begin next week.

    Playa specializes in açaí, pitaya, kale, coconut and banana blended bowls topped with granola and fresh fruit. They also serve juices, smoothies, steel-cut oatmeal and nitro tap coffee.

    The brothers have kept their eyes open for a couple of years while looking for the right business to franchise together and were introduced to açaí and superfruit bowls at the International Franchise Expo in New York City and found Playa on Instagram.

    “We kept our eyes open for the newest concepts and wanted something different to bring to market, not just a burger or sub shop,” VanGeffen says, noting their initial investment to open the restaurant is about $250,000.

    Açaí bowls came to Baton Rouge in the summer of 2017 as part of The Big Squeezy’s expansion plans and have since popped up on multiple menus across the city, mostly at juice shops. The VanGeffens are not concerned about potential competition, with Jordan saying he and his brother believe its an upward-trending industry.

    “Our research shows people are actively trying to eat healthier and people are looking for healthy alternatives,” VanGeffen says. “If you’re doing something worth doing, there’s always going to be competition on the scene.”

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