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Playa Bowls Surfs into Harvard Square

Playa Bowls, an açaí bowl shop, opened its first Cambridge location on Mt. Auburn Street Saturday.
Playa Bowls, an açaí bowl shop, opened its first Cambridge location on Mt. Auburn Street Saturday. By Aidan F. Ryan
By Julia A. Kendall, Crimson Staff Writer

Playa Bowls, an açaí bowl shop, opened its first Cambridge location on Mt. Auburn Street Saturday.

Located at 71 Mt. Auburn Street, Playa Bowls serves customizable açaí and pitaya bowls, as well as juices and smoothies.

Playa Bowls Partner Dana Nentin said in a press release that the company was excited to bring “a healthy, fresh and delicious food option to this young, vibrant city.”

Some of the most popular items on their menu include the Pura Vida açaí bowl and the Nutella açaí bowl, Nentin said in an interview. The store also allows customers to create their own bowls.

“We do always recommend checking out some of our other bases — we offer pitaya, coconut, banana, chia, green bases,” she said. “You even have the opportunity to mix things up, so you could do half açaí half pitaya. Every bowl in our store is customizable.”

Due to the pandemic, Playa Bowls is currently not offering any indoor or outdoor seating but is open for take-out.

Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, said Playa Bowls brings a unique concept to the Square.

“I don't think we have anything quite like this,” Jillson said. “They're just delicious bowls, healthy bowls…with all kinds of toppings. They have gluten free, vegan, seeds and flakes and extracts and fruit. It just goes on and on.”

Playa Bowls is a national franchise with three locations in Massachusetts including the store in Harvard Square. Several former Boston College alumni own the Boston-area stores. Nentin said the time the proprietors spent in Cambridge as undergraduates led them to pursue a location in Harvard Square.

“We decided we really wanted to bring this to Harvard Square [after] just going there a lot back in college and now, it's a great area, great town. You have the support of the students and local businesses, and it was a place that was really high on our list to bring Playa Bowls as well,” Nentin said.

Nentin said Playa Bowls is focused on attracting more than just college students.

“I think the brand caters to everyone,” she said. “We found in other stores, by being outside of large colleges and universities, a lot of our clientele is college students, but we do cater to everyone. We do get people in from local suburbs — even a bit further away. Some people will travel to our stores to try us out.”

Playa Bowls was originally founded by two New Jersey surfers — Abby Taylor and Rob Giuliani — in an effort to recreate açaí and pitaya bowls they had tried on surf trips throughout the United States and Latin America. The pair opened Playa Bowls in New Jersey in 2014. The Boston-area Playa Bowls locations have been open since 2019.

The Harvard Square location is the 96th Playa Bowls store in the country. The other Massachusetts stores are near Boston College and Northeastern University.

—Staff writer Julia A. Kendall can be reached at julia.kendall@thecrimson.com.

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