On a hot and humid day at the Jenks Building in Cuyahoga Falls, all I could think about was cooling off with a cold treat. Luckily, Sandy Bottom Bowls was there for the afternoon selling açaí smoothie bowls out of their trailer. The trailer is easy to spot with its ocean waves and tropical leaves encircling the structure.
For those unfamiliar with açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-ee), it is a fruit similar in shape and size to a grape. The fruit grows on açaí palm trees and is native to the northern area of South America. Açaí berries have become a trendy superfood within the last decade.
Sandy Bottom Bowls, owned and operated by Ariel Myers, touts itself as Northeast Ohio’s first açaí bowl food trailer.
The idea started in 2016 as she was experiencing pregnancy cravings for clean, healthy foods. She made salads, smoothies, and other healthy foods at home.
“I started making the toppings look fun and then I’d take pictures and post them on Instagram,” Ariel says. Friends loved her creations and asked when she was opening a smoothie shop, which eventually turned into a food trailer idea.
A few months after the birth of her daughter, Ellie, Ariel devoted time into making Sandy Bottom Bowls a reality.
By July 2017, Ariel was serving up açaí smoothie bowls in a trailer that was formerly used for shaved ice.
The name Sandy Bottom is meant to invoke thoughts of the beach.
“I wanted [Sandy Bottom Bowls] to be like a little tropical paradise in Ohio,” Ariel says.
She originally envisioned adding granola to the bottom of the bowls, to create the “sandy bottom,” but realized it looks better as a topping.
Sandy Bottom Bowls’ season typically runs through May until the end of October. The trailer can be found at events such as farmers markets and festivals, or parked outside businesses including Jean + Lou and SDMyers, where Ariel works full-time in their warehouse.
“I like to collaborate with other businesses because we both benefit,” she explains.
I love checking out new things in and around Akron. Since following Sandy Bottom Bowls in 2017, I have discovered many new events, businesses and Akron neighborhoods where the trailer sets up, such as Canyon Trail Park and the Lavender Festival at Maize Valley in Hartville.
Once you place your order, Ariel and her team make your bowl fresh. There are usually three people working in the trailer: one takes the orders, one makes the smoothie base, and Ariel typically adds the toppings to each bowl. Despite the fact that there is usually a line, I always receive my order quickly.
The açaí bowls begin with the same base: açaí, bananas, strawberries, and apple juice blended together to create a thick consistency .
“I do feel like my competitive advantage [is] my base. It’s what I think brings people back,” Ariel says.
Her trick to obtaining the perfect smoothie bowl consistency is using frozen fruits and blending the mixture slowly.
You can then select a bowl from their menu, or you can create your own by choosing from an assortment of toppings including fresh fruit, coconut flakes, and chia seeds. Special toppings are also occasionally offered, such as peaches marinated in cinnamon and honey, which is as wonderful as it sounds.
Ariel notes that the best-seller is the PB&A, which includes granola, creamy peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, cacao nibs, and a drizzle of Ohio honey.
I went with my usual, the Sandy Bottom Bowl, which features the açaí base topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries, banana, goji berries, and a drizzle of Ohio honey. The smooth base topped with fresh fruit and crunchy granola make for a delicious treat with interesting textures. Despite all of the sweet flavors, I always feel good after finishing a bowl.
Prices for the açaí bowls are very reasonable. Except for the PB&A, all of the bowls start at $6 for a small bowl. The PB&A is an additional dollar due to the peanut butter.
Sandy Bottom Bowls also offers a punch card, which rewards you with a free açaí bowl after purchasing ten bowls. Although it has taken me a few years to fill my punch card, I have a free bowl waiting for me on my next visit.
Before this year’s season began, Ariel experimented with pre-orders for her signature açaí smoothie bowl bases. Customers could order the base and sides of granola in order to create their own açaí bowls at home.
“That was amazing,” she says. “I had no idea so many people would order them and they’re still ordering them [even though] the trailer’s open.”
Last year was challenging, as many outdoor events and festivals were cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think I cried when Elevate Akron canceled because I had four of my events send out cancel emails all in the same day,” Ariel says.
But that didn’t stop Ariel. She set up the trailer in parking lots and various neighborhoods, “side of the road” style. And customers showed up.
Ariel is grateful for customers’ support, and she loves seeing familiar faces return week after week.
Ariel hopes to expand and eventually open a storefront.
She would like to offer different smoothie bases, such as dragonfruit, and provide other items including soups, fresh pressed juices, and coffee that are made by her chef friends.
Sandy Bottom Bowls has a packed schedule this season. Next time you find yourself at an event with Sandy Bottom Bowls, I suggest you order a bowl, sit down at one of their lime green tables set up near the trailer and enjoy.
Melanie Mohler is a West Hill resident with a love for baking, cross-stitch and local history. You can find her ordering an açaíbowl at the Sandy Bottoms Bowls trailer throughout their season.
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