Freshwater acai bowls: Blessed Bowls accuses Mr Gelato of copying its menu word-for-word

Two acai bowl shops, both alike in healthy treats, in fair Freshwater where we lay our scene.

On Sydney’s picturesque northern beaches, a not-so-ancient grudge is playing out in public between rival stores as two small businesses vie for dominance in the lucrative trade of the popular Brazilian dessert.

Tongues were set wagging this week after a sign appeared in the window of Blessed Bowls on Lawrence Street in Freshwater, accusing a rival business – Mr Gelato, located a stone’s throw down the road – of copying its menu, something Mr Gelato strongly denies.

“Dear Blessed Bowls customers, we have been very disappointed to see a local business take our whole menu, all items, names and pricing and identically copy what we have spent three years carefully crafting,” the notice said.

“The business has directly copied and pasted our entire menu with no alterations. This is very sad to see in such a great community. There is no harm in serving acai bowls however taking what a company has uniquely crafted is very disappointing to see. We have no association with Mr Gelato and we ask that our loyal customers continue to support us.”

Indeed, the acai bowl menu at Mr Gelato does have a number of the same items with ingredients listed word-for-word – although not all of them – including its Biscoff Bowl Acai, Brownie Acai and Snickers Acai.

And Mr Gelato’s Peanut Butnana Acai appears to be a renamed version of Blessed Bowls’ Chunky Monkey Acai, also with word-for-word ingredients.

But “the menu’s not the same”, Mr Gelato’s owner insisted on Thursday.

“We’re not really happy with what they did to us … it’s not fair,” he told news.com.au.

“They are accusing us of doing something wrong but it’s not. Do I have to sue everyone doing hazelnut gelato, pistachio gelato? Acai is not their brand, acai is for everyone. We buy the acai from Brazil, just like everyone. They are against us because I think they’re worried about us.”

The owner, who did not want his name used, said he had not spoken to the owner of Blessed Bowls.

“I don’t [know her] and I don’t want to speak to her,” he said.

“She’s accusing me of doing something but the market research she’s doing on my shop … why is she always opening close to me? She opened one in Collaroy [also on Sydney’s northern beaches] 50 metres from my shop, why? They’re worried about us because we’ve got the best spot here, they are up the hill. That’s why.”

Blessed Bowls has seven stores and a food truck along Sydney’s northern beaches.

Mr Gelato, which has two stores and has been at the Moore Road location in Freshwater for six years, started offering acai bowls around three months ago, according to the owner.

But he stressed that his menu was more extensive than Blessed Bowls, with more options and toppings.

“It’s not the same, you can check … you can see it’s not the same, we’re doing a lot of acai, more than them,” he said.

“And the price on my one is much cheaper than them.”

An original acai in size small sells for $12.50 at Blessed Bowls, whereas the same dessert at Mr Gelato is $11.50.

“It’s not the same and they’re accusing me that I’m doing the same as them, that is not true,” the owner said.

“And it’s not fair because everyone can sell acai. We’ve got the same product that they have. We do it a different way. They say we copy, they don’t. I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m selling the same product that everyone’s selling. Everyone sells acai. We have like 12 types of acai, she’s got just six acai bowls. It’s not the same, the price is different. She doesn’t invent nothing.”

He added, “She’s doing marketing – you’re here now. She does marketing for me. I can be famous.”

Mr Gelato is also considering legal action over the note, he revealed.

“We’re already with lawyers, because it’s unfair,” he said. “I’ve been here for six years. My business is very strong.”

The owner of Blessed Bowls was not at the Freshwater store on Thursday and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Regular customers Troy Abraham, 41, and Caroline Bradley, 39, were enjoying an acai bowl outside and discussing the notice, which went viral on social media earlier in the morning after being posted to Facebook by the Manly Observer page.

Branding it the “acai wars of Freshwater”, the Manly Observer noted it “may be the most northern beaches drama to unfold since reusable mugs failed to properly fit e-bike coffee cup holders”.

“We’ve just been talking about it,” Ms Bradley said.

Mr Abraham said they were “speculating because they do gelato … we haven’t been there in ages, and it seems like everyone’s coming here now because acai is the new fad, and they’re probably pissed off and were like, let’s just get in on it”.

“I think it’s a bit of a fad probably, but it’s tasty,” Ms Bradley said.

She added that Mr Gelato’s apparent copying of Blessed Bowls’ menu “makes me not want to go there”.

Blessed Bowls, according to Mr Abraham, was “super” popular with locals.

“When school gets out it’s like all the teenage girls, this is their spot,” he said.

frank.chung@news.com.au

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