A SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY ENTREPRENEUR BRINGS HIS ACAI BOWL INCLUSIVE CONCEPT TO THE TRI STATE AND BEYOND
BY JENNIFER VIKSE • PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
A few years ago, Bill Loesch felt lost.
Chasing a Wall Street dream glorified by the film industry, Loesch started working for a firm and earned his Series 7 license, but decided to make a change. “I was trying to figure out what to do…stick it out or enter a new chapter of my life,” he recalled.
At a friend’s suggestion, he took a trip to clear his mind, and it wound up being life changing. A conversation with another entrepreneur at a rooftop restaurant changed his trajectory, and after returning to New York City, Loesch quit his job and began months of research and development on a relatively new concept for Brooklyn and Staten Island: the acai bowl, featuring the fiber and antioxidant rich super berry from Brazil.
He noticed that acai bowls were taking the West Coast by storm, and were moving east, so he decided to get involved. “A friend of my father’s was looking to rent out a space and do a juice bar,” he detailed. “We agreed acai bowls were the next hot food trend.”
After that, Loesch began tinkering with recipes and reaching out to anyone he could think of who might be helpful in setting up his first store, and that process didn’t take very long. Loesch spent six months building the store and testing products, and in December of 2016, he opened Baya Bar in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Baya, which means “berry” in Spanish, wasn’t his first choice for a name, but it ended up being perfect, as Baya Bar serves acai bowls in multitude (priced $9, $10 and $11), along with kale bowls, pitaya bowls, coconut bowls, smoothies, and cold pressed juices. The concept’s success, in part, was attributable to social media outreach.
“We built Instagram and Facebook pages before we even opened,” Loesch explained. “So, when we did, people in the area knew who we were. We had great reception right off the bat.”
The store also maintains a commitment to educating customers about their own health. “The goal is to emphasize a healthier life. The whole point is to eat wholesome, healthier food,” he noted. To that end, the business stocks 100% organic cold pressed apple juice, 100% organic coconut milk, granola, all natural peanut butter, coconut water, almond milk, and hemp milk. Customers can choose a bowl from the menu or build an a la carte version, and “a crowd favorite is the Bella Nutella,” Loesch said. “An acai bowl topped with granola, strawberry, banana, coconut flakes and Nutella drizzled on top. It’s not one of our healthiest options on the menu, but absolutely delicious!”
One of the things that makes Baya Bar stand out from other bowl spots is portion size. Its bowls have a larger circumference and plenty of room for toppings. “People love toppings. I knew that would play into our favor. It’s more of a meal replacement than a snack. I can go after the breakfast, lunch, and dinner crowd.”
Those crowds, the owner added, are composed of mostly women and young folks aged 14 to 34 a crowd that loves to share food on social media. “The bowls look beautiful. All the kids take a picture of theirs. We are offering a very Instagrammable product.”
In addition, Baya Bar offers a colorful environment, with good music, and its signature palm trees convey a suitable sense of repose.
After a successful start, Loesch has decided that franchise opportunities can move the concept national. “My vision is to see this brand across the nation, to help people be aware of what they are putting in their bodies,” he said. “You want to be transparent with what’s in your food. The goal is to push it toward a lifestyle brand.”
The other benefit to creating a franchise system is helping others create their own businesses, Loesch said. “I believe in this very strongly. I want to give this opportunity to other entrepreneurs. There are plenty of people struggling, people who don’t love the 9 to 5. I want to help other hardworking people build their own business. They may not know how to do it, but they can follow our process. We can change lives.”
In Staten Island: 6833 Amboy Road (718.360.5005); 2381 Hylan Boulevard
(718.233.5035); 416 Forest Avenue (718.285.0148); and 3830 Richmond Avenue
In Brooklyn: 9417 3rd Avenue (718.213.4702); 374 5th Avenue (718.301.6322)