Sign-Up for Fig Weekly
Receive a weekly email roundup of what’s happening in Lancaster City. Don’t miss it!
Subscribe to Fig
Have all 4 issues delivered to your mailbox. 10% of your subscription cost will be donated to our Fig Social Mission Partner. Oh, and don’t forget to get a gift subscription for all your friends.
Suggest an Event
The online Fig calendar is a curated list of community and advertiser events happening in downtown Lancaster.
September 10, 2018
Funky Fresh Flavor: New Oola Bowls Opens In Lancaster City
We’re super excited for Lancaster City’s newest food scene addition: Oola Bowls.
Launching their food truck and opening a stand at Lancaster Central Market in May, the team at Oola Bowls is excited to offer the community fresh, delicious acai bowls—but what are they?
We got a chance to try these bowls, sit down with the guys behind the Oola Bowls vision, and get all the info about this refreshing treat here in the heart of the City!
The Details: What Is An Acai Bowl?
There is justified buzz around this new addition to the downtown scene. But what really is an acai, pronounced “ah-sah-eee”, bowl?
“It’s two parts,” said Joe Ferderbar, Co-founder of Oola Bowls. “First, the frozen acai puree provides the base. Then secondly, we add healthy toppings like fruit, nuts, honey, and coconut. Everyone who has tried an acai bowl has really liked it. The customers who we have exposed this new treat to has had really positive feedback.”
The acai berry, native to Brazil, is a dark purple berry and is categorized as a “super food” that is nutritious and full of antioxidants, healthy omegas, and healthy fats. There are varying types of berry, and the team wanted to choose one with a high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value—meaning a high antioxidant, and extra nutritious, level.
“We wanted a product that maintained a lot of the antioxidants that is in the acai berry,” said Joe. “We also wanted a type that was relatively lower in sugar, too.”
The acai bowls come in a variety of options. The most popular—aptly called Oola Bowl—has acai sorbet, granola, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, and honey drizzle. Some customers like to switch it up and get peanut butter or Nutella instead of honey. Also, there are add-on toppings like flax seed, hemp seed, goji berries, gluten free granola, granola, and more, so each bowl is completely customizable. All fruit is fresh and not frozen.
“What’s cool is that acai is a very healthy food,” said Brock Snider, co-founder of Oola Bowls. “One of the things we want to do with our company is introduce healthier lunch and dinner alternatives that you might not have necessarily tried if you live in Lancaster County.”
How do you even say 'acai'? According to Joe and Brock, it is pronounced 'ah-sah-eee."
"We are both naturally outgoing people and we also make it a rule with our staff to engage with customers and always be friendly."
Brains Behind The Business: Meet The Team
Both Brock and Joe claim they each had the idea to open an acai bowl place in Lancaster before the other.
“I went to San Francisco to visit some friends and they recommended I try a place that made acai bowls,” said Joe. “Jokingly on the way back on the plane, I said how this was the type of thing that would take off in Lancaster and I should start one.”
“I went down to the shore one day in New Jersey,” said Brock. “My buddies and I tried acai bowls for the first time and thought they were so good. Then I came home the next weekend and told Joe that we needed to start something that sells these acai bowls. He was like ‘dude, I was the one that told you about this already.’ And I said ‘no way.'”
Laughing, they conceded that it was probably a mutual idea, each getting to it at different times. They had always gotten together and exchanged entrepreneurial ideas over beer, chatted about new Shark Tank entrepreneurs, and tossed around business opportunities, so it wasn’t odd that they would develop similar plans when it came to the acai bowl idea.
“A big piece of why we did this in the first place was that we both said we really wanted to start a business from nothing,” said Joe. “Just the thought of starting something like that, and developing a successful business plan, is something we always wanted to do.”
The idea began two years ago, but then quickly came to fruition early this year.
“It has been great—we have worked very hard to be prepared,” said Brock. “We spent so many hours thinking strategically and getting ready to launch.”
The name Oola Bowls was chosen (meaning having a balanced diet in an unbalanced world) and then there was no turning back.
“We’ve heard great feedback,” said Joe. “We’ve been very, very busy!”
The creation of Oola Bowls was a team effort.
“Friends and family members hopped in to help build out the stand and food truck and work for the day as we got started,” said Joe. “My dad has a design firm that also employs carpenters so they built the stand. Brock’s dad is also a carpenter and he spent countless hours, even when we weren’t there, in the food truck helping to fix things.”
It really was a collective project. Joe and Brock both emphasized how grateful they are to their family and friends that helped make this dream a reality.
“Brock’s girlfriend, Ali, has been a rock star—spending hours of her time off this past summer, she is a teacher, in the food truck getting it ready,” added Joe. “My wife, Chelsey, has been invaluable keeping Brock and I organized and on task. She runs the social media and has been great managing the stand on market days. I don’t know if either Ali or Chelsey knew exactly what they were signing up for!”
In addition to Brock’s Grandma providing the recipe for the granola at Oola Bowls, Brock cites his family as an inspiration for his food passion.
“I always had a passion for cooking—both my grandmas were always big cookers and bakers,” said Brock. “I love making something delicious and giving that feeling to people that try something for the first time.”
Looking ahead, the duo has already started planning some new initiatives.
“We’ve love to help develop the food truck scene in Lancaster even more,” said Joe. “Helping to create more opportunities for food trucks to be around more often.”
Plan Your Visit
Make sure to stop by Oola Bowls at the Lancaster Central Market to try these delicious acai bowls, interact with the engaging staff, and experience a healthy alternative to a typical breakfast or lunch.
Here’s our quick recap guide:
- Location: Oola Bowls at the Lancaster Central Market – 23 N Market St, Lancaster, PA.
- Hours: Tuesday/Friday 6am-4pm, Saturday 6am-2pm. Closed Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
- Menu: Fresh acai bowls and granola.
- More Info: Check out the website!