Young people lined the street outside the new Sobol in Islip Tuesday as its owners celebrated a grand opening by giving away acai bowls to the first 50 customers to pour in.

“How do you make money by giving stuff away?” one teen asked.

“The idea is for people to come back,” was the response.

There were actually more than 50 free bowls given away, but the owners, Eric Hajdukiewicz of Wantagh and his cousins Kathy and Eric Brzostek of East Islip, said they couldn’t turn down any of the young people who were waiting outside.

After all, it’s been the young people that have helped fuel the frozen berry bowl craze that Sobol’s parent company was at the forefront of when their Super Bowls opened in 2011 in Sayville.

(The company’s name has since changed.)

“My girls … my oldest is 20, and she’s been going to the location in Sayville for the last six years, so I knew about it,” said Kathy. “So when Eric asked if I wanted to open one with him, I automatically said yes. And this place [in Islip] is so close.”

Sobol Islip, which is a franchise location, opened Jan. 17 in the former Subway shop at 479 Main Street.

Hajdukiewicz also opened a Wantagh location in June.

One thing they’ve all have noticed in the acai bowl game is the demographics for those in search of the bowls is quickly shifting from mostly teens to older adults.

“In the other location it’s probably 50 percent or more adults,” Hajdukiewicz said. “Of course the kids introduce it to the adults, but they really do like the healthy snack — and the alternative to pizza and burgers”

What’s an açaí bowl?

Açaí (pronounced ah sigh EEE) is a purple berry that grows on palm trees in Central and South America. Because it is not a fruit native to the U.S., it is commonly sold in frozen, freeze-dried or powder form.

An açaí “bowl” begins as smoothie blended to the thickness of a sherbet. The frozen açaí berry is the key ingredient; it’s typically pureed with almond milk or coconut milk.

The true allure of the açaí bowl, however, is the toppings, which typically include a variety of fresh sliced fruit, shaved coconut, nut butter and granola.

While açaí bowls have been around for a few years now, they’re more popular this year than ever. This could be due to some media buzz heralding the açaí berry as a “superfood” with numerous health benefits.

Top: A Build-Your-Own açaí bowl from the East Setauket location. (Credit: Nicholas Esposito)

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