The opening weekend for the Miller Place establishment will be a gala affair, with giveaways and fundraisers benefiting Southampton Animal Shelter.
, a New Jersey-based chain that offers healthy, delicious açaí, pitaya, coconut bowls and smoothies utilizing the freshest ingredients, will be opening its first-ever Long Island location in Miller Place on Saturday, November13. And according to owner Kenneth Ruben, the opening weekend will be a gala affair, with giveaways and fundraisers benefiting Southampton Animal Shelter.
Kenneth, a life-long Mount Sinai resident, said that he first discovered the Playa Bowls chain while on a family vacation to the famed Jersey Shore one summer, instantly became a huge fan, and envisioned one day opening his own location back home.
“In the summertime we vacation in the Hamptons and the Jersey Shore. Our favorite place on the shore was this amazing, always packed açaí/smoothie place called Playa Bowls,” he said. “The quality of the fresh fruits, cool people, and chill vibes of the store made us instantly fall in love! During the pandemic, while speaking to my brother and sisters an idea arose…let’s bring Playa Bowls to the greater Miller Place/Mount Sinai area, and I teamed up with my sister, Isabella Conte, in this venture!”
Playa Bowls – a chain featuring 130 stores whose mantra is "your slice of summer, anytime" – features bowls built on bases such as acai, pitaya, coconut, chia pudding, oatmeal, and more, and can be filled with and combination of fruit, granola, chia seeds, honey, nuts, hemp seeds, and more.
During Playa Bowls’ opening weekend, on Saturday 50 free bowls will be given away, and an additional 25 on Sunday; in addition, there will be free Playa Concert t-shirts, raffles, a DJ spinning tunes, and a well-known local fitness expert will be holding classes in the parking lot.
Hours for the grand opening on Saturday will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sunday hours will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, lines for the free bowls will be starting early, so make sure to arrive prior to opening if you’re interested!
Isabella Conte, Kenneth Ruben and Mia. Photo Credit: Kenneth Ruben
There will also be an extensive fundraising effort during Playa Bowls opening weekend, with the proceeds benefiting Southampton Animal Shelter.
“We're going to be holding a raffle where local businesses will be donating goods and services, and all of the money from the raffles, plus a percentage of the sales that weekend, will all be going to the Southampton Animal Shelter,” Kenneth said. "I also have loose commitments from several other people who wish to make donations. During this time of craziness in the country, one thing we have in common is that everyone loves pets, so I'm happy to be a part of this.”
The fundraiser is being held in partnership with Vincent Malizia of A1 Roofing of Port Jefferson Station, whom Kenneth referred to as a dear friend for over 30 years, whose family is committed to supporting the not-for-profit animal rescue.
Supporting the shelter is a cause that Kenneth said is very near and dear to his heart; an animal lover, in the late winter of 2019 he was mourning the loss of his family’s faithful hound Billy, a lovable Dogue De Bordeaux.
“As many have unfortunately learned with time’s passing, the loss of an animal is an impactful and harrowing experience,” he said. “One which takes away from the essence of returning home from a day’s work…it makes a snow day a little less fun and the holidays less eventful than they once were with a pooch in the kitchen. Billy fought hard through multiple heart surgeries, but his day finally came to cross the rainbow bridge, and I was crushed.”
One evening, a friend showed Kenneth a picture of a dog he rescued from Southampton Animal Shelter weeks prior; he explained how great of a facility the shelter was, and in that instant Kenneth knew what was missing- a new four-legged best friend.
“Days later I decided to drive about 45 miles east on a cold day doused with flurries to have a look at the dogs and immediately laid my eyes on Mia, the lovable mush who sat guard behind the counter when you enter,” he said on his visit to the Southampton Animal Shelter. “We gave each other a look, and she offered a few sniffs, I knew she was destined to be my friend for life. Mia came home that week and became the newest furry resident of Mount Sinai, where I was born and raised and own my home now.”
Another cause that Kenneth supports is the Mount Sinai-based, non-profit Infant Jesus Basketball, a program started by his father Bart in the 1990’s.
“Infant Jesus Basketball focuses on athletics and friendship for our local youth. It was proof to me at a young age how someone’s ideas and passions can make all the difference in the lives of many,” he said. “Infant Jesus Basketball is now run by Dr. Dennis Kahn, a retired dentist, close family friend and mentor to me for many years. And he continues to do great things for today’s kids. Just as Mia brought joy back to my life, it is my hope that the Miller Place Playa Bowls will bring many days of laughter, bonding and opportunity for the youth of our neighborhoods.”
Ever a civic-minded part of his community with an urge to give back, in the days leading up to Playa Bowls’ grant opening, Kenneth has been traveling the country as part of his day job, helping first-responders and people who are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My father started a business in 1990 selling industrial cleaning and maintenance products, and during this pandemic I've been traveling around the country helping mostly Native American tribes who have been suffering greatly from COVID-19,” he said. “We’ve been selling them the personal protective equipment that they need and holding lectures to instruct them on how to use it. We are in this fight together.”
However, Kenneth is looking forward to getting home to oversee the grand opening of Miller Place’s Playa Bowls location; in fact, his faith in the brand is so strong that he already has two more Long Island locations in the works, and more to come in the near future.
“We're already signed…we don't have the physical locations yet but they're going to be located in Southampton and Stony Brook. They should be opening up in the spring and early fall, respectively,” he said. “Through the pandemic I prepared for a new business venture and wanted to participate in something that would lend to the community, enrich the lives of the employees, and offer a place to socialize and spend time with the people you love. Enter Playa Bowls. I know this place will be one of special importance for my whole family and all those who enter it.”