Freshwater acai bowls: Blessed Bowls reveals copy-and-pasted menu by Mr Gelato that sparked legal threat

The owner of a gelato shop has denied claims made by a popular Sydney acai bowl chain that their menu had been copied.

Blessed Bowls set tongues wagging this week after a sign appeared in the window of its Freshwater store accusing 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,” the notice outside the popular Lawrence Street dessert bar began before accusing the gelato store of copying their menu.

“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,” the note ontinued.

The acai bowl menu at Mr Gelato as it currently appears does have a number of similar 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 has the same ingredients as Blessed Bowls’ Chunky Monkey Acai.

Ella Stevenson, owner of Blessed Bowls, told news.com.au that the current menu at Mr Gelato had only been updated after she sent a legal threat.

“I would like to make it clear to the public that this is the original menu Mr Gelato put up at both of his stores which caused us to react by sending a letter of demand to him through our solicitors and post the message on the window of our Freshwater shop,” she said in an email, sharing an photo of the old menu.

The old and the new menu are largely the same but the new menu more prominently features “Mr Gelato Special” acai bowls, and has three additional options — Raffaello, Ferrero Rocher and Kinder Bueno.

“We have no problem with healthy competition,” Ms Stevenson said.

“We would rather leave this with our legal team as we … feel strongly in protecting our franchises when it comes to things like this.”

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

“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 … 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 Freshwater Village location 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, we 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.”

Mr Gelato was 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.”

Regular Blessed Bowls 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.

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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