SoBol, a New York-based açaí bowl chain, is opening shop on Penn’s campus at 38th and Spruce, later this month. Açaí bowls, pronounced “ah-sigh-EE,” are a Brazilian frozen specialty made with pureed açaí berries, topped with fruit and granola. The on–campus location will open on August 23, Philly.com reported.
Recently, açaí bowls have gained popularity in the US as a "superfood." Many stores advertise açaí's health benefits and position it as an alternative to ice cream, with the same consistency. Sobol’s press release lists “anti-aging and energy-boosting agents” among its health benefits.
However, nutritionists largely dismiss açaí berries’ medicinal value.The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found there was “no definitive scientific evidence based on studies in people to support the use of açaí for any health-related purpose.” So, while an açaí bowl might be a healthy ice cream substitute, you’re probably not going to experience the plot of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
SoBol’s new store will use the same menu as its Rittenhouse Square location, which opened in April, but may soon add waffles to the repertoire.
The original Philly location has received mix reviews, earning a 3.5-star rating on Yelp. While commenters generally approve of health and taste, many expressed frustrations with the store’s high prices — up to $12.95 for an Açaí Bowl and $14.95 for a Pitaya Bowl.
Franchise owners Mike Quinn and Dan Nestor, who also own the Rittenhouse location, wanted to open on Penn’s campus to attract more college students.
"College students looking for a quick, healthy, delicious and affordable meal are a huge part of our target demographic," said Dan. "Once we saw the space at the corner of 38th and Spruce, we knew immediately that it would be our second location."
This post has been updated to reflect that SoBol will open on August 23 and that the berries are not mashed but pureed. 34th Street regrets the error.