It’s a good idea to learn how to pronounce açaí because it’s a word that will be on everyone’s lips starting this Wednesday, Dec. 18. That’s when SoBol, a café that specializes in açaí bowls and smoothies, is opening in the Wilton River Park shopping plaza, at 5 River Rd. (across from Starbucks).
The açaí berry is a superfruit grown in the Amazon. An antioxidant that is rich in nutrients and vitamins, açaí became very trendy in the last couple of years. SoBol is a rapidly growing franchise company based in Long Island that created cafes which serve açaí bowls, green bowls, fruit smoothies and more. They’ve expanded throughout Long Island and the Hamptons, and into Westchester and Pennsylvania. There are three other SoBol locations in Connecticut–Greenwich, New Haven and Ridgefield.
Just what is an açaí bowl?
SoBol of Wilton’s owner Melissa Ferreira explains: “We take that berry, we blend it with strawberries and bananas, and a splash of soy. We blend that together to make a frozen puree. We parfait that between two layers of our homemade granola, which is really delicious–that’s what people notice most about our bowls is the homemade granola. Then we top that with fresh bananas, strawberries, blueberries, coconut and honey.”
Customers can add extra toppings, like pineapple, nut butters, mango, kiwi, protein, Nutella, chia seeds…the list is much longer. In addition to açaí, SoBol offers two other blended bases: pitaya, also known as dragon fruit, which is a little more tart, matched with sweeter fruit toppings–pineapple, kiwi and mango–for a bowl that’s a bit more tropical; and the green bowl with spinach and kale blended with mango, banana and almond milk. “It’s a great way to get your vegetables,” says Melissa, who adds that there are also smoothies on the menu as well.
The Ridgefield location was the first store for franchisees, Melissa and her husband, Sergio Ferreira.
“Sergio is from Portugal. I’m Italian, so everything revolves around food and family and friends and hosting and all that. Even before we got married, Sergio said for years he wanted to open a restaurant. Neither of us had any food experience besides, you know, at home growing up. We didn’t have any experience so we thought buying a franchise would be the perfect way to do that, Melissa explains.
As luck would have it, Sergio, who is a contractor, was hired to build a couple of other SoBol stores for another franchisee, and got to know the corporate owners. “They kept saying, ‘Oh, you guys should open one!’” Melissa recounts.
The couple did just that in Ridgefield a little over a year ago, and it’s been a popular spot since day one. They thought Wilton was a perfect setting for their second location.
“We did really well in Ridgefield and I think Wilton has a similar community–a very tight knit community. We thought your downtown has a lot of potential. We’re excited to be there and bring in a new restaurant, especially something like this–I really think we’ll add something unique and really special,” Melissa adds.
They also say that becoming a part of the community from the start is important to them.
“We try to do fundraisers with the high school and whoever, sports teams and others like that, so we try to help as much as we can. We want to get involved with the community. And I’ve met a lot of really nice high schoolers already. I interviewed a ton of high schoolers. They’re all like very involved in the community, and all are really well-mannered, nice kids,” says Melissa, who hired 10 Wilton High School students as servers.
Starting at noon on Wednesday when SoBol opens for the first time, and continuing through the restaurant’s first four days, Melissa says they will have various giveaways and prizes. At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, they’ll start giving away 50 free bowls to the first 50 customers. On Thursday the first 25 customers will each get one free smoothie beginning first thing in the morning. On Friday, customers will get a chance to win a free t-shirt (they’ll have 25 winning tickets). And on Saturday, SoBol will be giving away an entire keg of cross culture kombucha in 16 oz cups or refillable bottles, to anyone who makes a purchase starting at noon.
The store does have a protocol to follow for people with allergies to nuts, fruits and other items, says manager Alex Morrison.
“We have procedures in place to handle allergies. We can’t guarantee 100%, no cross-contamination, but we do have separate stations where we handle anything that might be an allergen. So we have strict procedures where we handle things separately so they’re not in the general area of anything that might be an allergen.”
Like Melissa and Sergio, Alex is excited about the opening.
“I want to echo what Melissa said. It’s, it’s a great community you guys have here. I see a lot of people walking their dogs out on the street. Everyone’s out and about. My hope is that people will stop by, start up a conversation. What I’m looking forward to the most is just getting to know everyone,” he says.