Frutta Bowls Latest Entry In Township’s Selection Of Fast-Casual Restaurants

Among those participating in the Frutta Bowls ribbon-cutting were co-owner Dave Malatesta (with sunglasses and scarf), Mayor Phil Kramer, center, and, to his left, co-owner Dan Jackson. Company founder Brooke Gagliano is to Jackson’s left.

Another addition to the township’s expanding diverse selection of eating establishments formally opened Jan. 13, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Frutta Bowls, in the Crossroads at Somerset Center, Old New Brunswick Road and Elizabeth Avenue.

Partners Dave Malatesta and Dan Jackson opened the health-oriented store a scant six months after deciding to join forces on the venture.

Frutta Bowls is the brainchild of 24-year-old Brooke Gagliano, a Freehold native whose trip to California several years ago led to her introduction to the acai berry, which forms the basis for most of Frutta Bowls’ offerings.

The store features fruit smoothies and bowls comprised of various fruits and additions such as peanut butter and Nuttella.

Jackson said he was first introduced to the chain through a friend at a gym.

“I was in a gym about six months ago and I ran across a friend and he had come across this franchise,” he said. “I found out where one of the franchises was located, went down and tried it and I just loved it.”

“It was healthy, it was different, it was so good I had to be a part of it,” he said.

“I came back to the gym I worked out in, talked to my friend Dave here, brought him on as a partner and here we are,” he said.

Jackson has owned a gym and has been a freelance commercial artist for about 30 years. Malatesta is a former teacher and has experience in opening chain restaurants.

“Dan approached me because he knew my operational background,” Malatesta said. “I opened up some restaurants across the country with another franchise. So from that aspect, Dan thought it would be a good marriage.”

“He showed me the concept, I started researching it, looking around, looked at the territory here in Somerset and I fell in love with it,” he said.

Somerset was chosen as the store’s location because “it’s a great location, great people, we have this mall that we’re located in, it’s centrally located to some corporations, a lot of senior housing, it just fit,” Jackson said.

The store employs Franklin High School students, which the partners see as a plus.

“It makes me feel good, too, that basically our whole staff is Franklin Township (high school) seniors,” Malatesta said. “I think it’s going to be a good marriage for the community. We’re looking forward to being a part of the Franklin Township community.”

Jackson said turnout for the first day of operation “far exceeded our expectations.”

Brooke Gagliano said the store opening was “super exciting.”

“We’re extremely excited to have Dave and Dan here,” she said. “They’re awesome people and I know this is going to be awesome in Somerset.”

The Franklin location is the ninth in New Jersey and the tenth overall, she said. The company has about 20 more locations in various stages of development said Pat Gagliano, Brooke’s father.

The Franklin Reporter & Advocate live-streamed from the grand opening. Here is the video:

Posted by The Franklin Reporter & Advocate on Saturday, January 13, 2018


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