Oola Bowls moves into franchising, accelerating growth

Paula Wolf//October 28, 2022

Oola Bowls moves into franchising, accelerating growth

Paula Wolf//October 28, 2022

Joe Ferderbar said he and his friend/associate Brock Snider had been thinking of starting a business together when they tried an acai berry-based smoothie bowl that blew them away.

The experience was remarkable, he said.

Excited for the possibilities, Ferderbar and Snider – who also own a Signarama franchise – launched Oola Bowls with a trailer-turned food truck and then progressed to a stand at Lancaster Central Market in 2018, with more locations to follow.

“We felt Lancaster was willing to try new things,” said Ferderbar, who called the food truck “a very low risk” way to start the enterprise. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he and Snider delivered oola bowls to health care workers and others to say thank you.

It’s hard to describe what an oola bowl is, “but everybody seems to love it,” Ferderbar said.

They’re made from acai berries – considered a superfood because they’re nutrient-dense and loaded with antioxidents – or pitaya blended into a pulp and topped with fresh fruit, peanut butter and homemade granola.

Now the partners are taking their company to the next level by franchising, with three additional Oola Bowls on the horizon and more expected in the next few years.

Oola Bowl’s menu features smoothies, snacks, and bulk foods such as organic acai and pitaya, coconut, granola and peanut butter, as well as the aforementioned acai and pitaya bowls.

Along with the food truck and Central Market stand, Oola Bowls owns five other locations: two in Hersheypark; one each in Lititz’s Market at The Wilbur and in Reading’s Fairgrounds Farmers Market; and a Manheim Township café at 1963 Fruitville Pike in Foxshire Plaza with a drive-thru and small seating area.

The Fruitville Pike storefront, which opened in May 2021, is where prep work is done for the other sites, Ferderbar said.

And that’s the model Oola Bowls is pushing for the franchises, he said.

Three agreements have been signed so far. One franchise is set to open at 3455 Old Philadelphia Pike in Intercourse, next to Kitchen Kettle Village, in early November.

A second, in North Cornwall Commons shopping center across from the Lebanon Valley Exposition Center south of Lebanon city, will soon break ground. Ferderbar said he hopes that 2,200-square-foot location, similar to the Fruitville café, will open next spring.

The third, in Camp Hill, is still in search of a site.

Ferderbar estimated the total cost to open a franchise starts at $250,000, which includes construction costs and a $30,000 franchise fee.

Beyond this first group of three, he said, as Oola Bowls develops a distribution network to support them, the company looks forward to further franchise expansion.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer