(Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

During the pandemic, tons of restaurants and delis closed, which was heartbreaking. Now that things are returning to normal, or at least to as normal a state as possible, one popular national deli is opening up its very first Michigan location.

This New Jersey-based spot has more than 100 locations throughout the U.S. They specialize in fruit bowls and smoothies, but also offer a range of deli-type foods for breakfast and lunch.

That spot is Playa Bowls. It’s first Michigan location will be in downtown East Lansing at 225 E. Grand River Avenue. Popular items include oatmeal bowls, power bowls, green bowls, acai, iced coffees, smoothies and pressed juices, will all be on the menu. The restaurant is expected to open in May.

Playa Bowls was founded by Robert Giuliani and Abby Taylor, who both hail from Jersey Shore and are long time surfers. “They were inspired by chasing summer on surf trips to Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, California & Hawaii,” they state on their official website. “Almost every exotic surf town they visited offered their own unique version of an acai or pitaya bowl. They decided to recreate their favorite recipes with their own twist at home at the Jersey Shore.”

So, they made a deal with the owner of the pizza shop they lived above on 8th Avenue in Belmar, New Jersey. “They bought a blender, a patio table, a fridge & a freezer and set up a makeshift pop up stand on the sidewalk in front of the pizza shop,” the story states. “They spent a lot of time and effort telling their story and educating customers on the benefits of acai. As word spread of this creative and intuitive pop up stand, more & more people stood in line on the side of Ocean Avenue to see what Playa Bowls was all about.” For more information, go here.

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Anne Erickson's love for music drew her into radio, and she started shortly after graduating from MSU. She has a passion for rock and metal, plus local music. She also fronts the band Upon Wings. Email Anne at erickson@WRIF.com, follow her on Instagram at @EricksonAnne and tweet at her @AnneErickson!