In August, after four months of planning and development, Sandra Recchione opened a SoBol store in Huntington, New York. The store, both Recchione and Huntington’s first, found almost immediate success, and Sandra is already preparing to open her second SoBol location.
Recchione came to SoBol after a varied career that included work for a catering company, a record label, and a loan processing company. After years of honing her business acumen at other peoples’ businesses, Recchione decided she wanted to own something for herself.
“I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and that brought me into all sorts of different industries,” Recchione said. “Most recently, I was working as a government underwriter, and I was looking toward the next opportunity. I wanted something I could own and run myself.”
Recchione’s boyfriend had tried SoBol and loved it, and he urged Recchione to look into the business. After trying it for herself, Recchione was sold on acai bowls, but she knew she’d need to try the competition.
“I did a lot of research on acai, and I sampled everything I could find,” Recchione said. “I looked into big chains little independent shops and everything in between, and the more I sampled, the more I became convinced that SoBol was the best concept. It was far and away the best bowl. It was all about the ingredients. Even SoBol’s granola was better than any other I tried.”
In addition to the superior product, Recchione found SoBol’s business model to be far simpler than the others she vetted.
“I looked at some other concepts that were far more complex,” Recchione said. “They had these huge, dizzying menus. I knew walking into those places that they just wouldn’t work. There was so much to run, and they couldn’t focus on perfecting the product.”
Recchione got in touch with SoBol’s development team, and soon she was scouting locations for her first SoBol.
“We looked all over Long Island, trying to find the perfect spot. Eventually the development team found a building in a great location in Huntington, and I checked it out and loved it. That’s where we set up shop, and I still love it.”
SoBol’s development team got to work setting up the store, and Recchione got to work training at the SoBol corporate office. The Huntington SoBol opened in August, but the store’s grand opening celebration wasn’t held until November.
“Even though we had been open for a couple months, we wanted to give the store some time to really get up and running before we had a grand opening,” Recchione said. “We got on our feet much faster than I anticipated. I’ve worked for a lot of different business, and I expected the usual growing pains, but it was a very smooth process, and the community really embraced us right off the bat.”
With her first store finding a large and enthusiastic customer base faster than expected, Recchione is eager to parlay her success into a second store in the area.
“We’re having architectural plans put together for the second store, so we’re still in the very early stages, but I’m excited to have the second store open. I plan on splitting my time between the two locations. We’ve got a great staff in Huntington, and we’re already promoting from within, so I’ll be able to step back from that store a little bit to focus on the new one.”
Recchione attributes her success with SoBol to the brand’s simple business model, which she believes can be mastered even without the wealth of businesses experience the Recchione’s resume boasts.
“It’s an extremely simple business to run. We’ve got a few peripheral items like bottled water and coffee, but for the most part, it’s bowls and smoothies. That’s it. There’s not a lot to learn, and there’s not a ton of inventory to manage. Everything comes straight from SoBol. The product, our menus, the recipes, everything is stocked by corporate.”
Another boon for the business has been a growing awareness of acai among consumers. Recchione believes that the other acai-bowl concepts in the market have only served to increase demand for the product, ultimately driving customers to SoBol.
“There are other acai bowl places around, and customers are really getting excited about it,” Recchione said. “I’m even seeing it on breakfast menus at sit-down restaurants. But none of those places are within the same ballpark as SoBol in terms of quality. So they are doing a lot to educate customers without challenging us.”
For Recchione, SoBol’s dominance in the acai space comes down to the consistency of the product across stores.
“I’ve gone to so many SoBol stores, and the bowls are always exactly the same. It’s that simple recipe and the quality ingredients, that allows us to serve a perfect product each and every time at every single store. Customers see the SoBol sign, and they know exactly what they are getting.”
As Recchione gears up to open her second store, she has no plans to slow the growth of her business anytime soon.
“I’m already scouting locations for a third location,” Recchione said,” and eventually, I’d like to open a SoBol in Florida. I think SoBol would be a huge hit down there.”
To maintain that growth, Recchione is committed to following the SoBol business model to a T.
“SoBol is growing fast. I plan to grow with it by sticking with their model. It’s a proven system. All the mistakes have already been made and accounted for, so if you follow the model, they are easy to avoid. It’s not rocket science, it’s just following instructions."