Ernie’s Açaí Bowls opens on the west side

Business By Alexandra Herrera, Reporter Thursday, June 20, 2024

    Ernie’s Açaí Bowls in Royal Oaks Plaza smells refreshingly of fresh fruit. 

     Staffers offer a bright and cheery “Welcome to Ernie’s!” to customers in the clean, simple setting: White walls, chairs and tables, a mural of the Ernie’s logo with a green palm tree and the open toppings bar.  

     The menu offers a variety of organic açaí bowls, smoothies and coffees too, at this third Ernie’s Açaí location, at 15468 NW 77th Court. 

     Several display screens show the combinations of dishes and there is also the option to design your own bowl. 

     The business is co-owned by Sebastian Williamson, Hernando Caicedo and Miami Laker Andrew Platt.

     Platt said he was excited to open the business in April and bring it home to friends and neighbors. 

     “I’ve been trying to open a restaurant in town for forever,” Platt said. 

     Video of the business went viral on TikTok after Sylvester Stallone and his daughter Scarlet dined at his Coral Gables store and the gravelly voiced actor and director struggled to pronounce açaí. 

     One of the signature bowls, the Scarlet Letter, has soft serve açaí topped with granola, organic coconut sorbet, bananas, raspberry puree, raspberries and peanut butter. 

     A portion of the sales proceeds from that bowl go to the Stallone Family Foundation, Platt said. 

     The açaí berry is reputed to have antioxidant and other health benefits. In various forms it has become a trendy item on South Florida menus and in the community. 

     This is the second locally-owned business in town that serves the fruit in shakes and cups: Açaí Express is on Main Street.

     Platt’s product is different: The soft serve is creamy, and not overly sweet or tart.  

     The granola has a subtle hint of vanilla that pairs well with the fruits and adds a bit of sweetness and crunch. 

     Fruits add a colorful pop to the cups and smooth nut butters give an extra boost of protein. 

     Everything is customizable. During one visit Platt advised a customer to add Nutella to their combo to make it better. 

     Diners can also add flax seeds, bee pollen, hemp seeds or goji berries.  

     A part-time comedian while he’s on the register, Platt wants people to enjoy the space. 

     “[I’m] adding banquette seating,” Platt said. He uses this store that is close to home as his office and encourages customers to take a break and set up their laptops, too. 

     Councilwoman Marilyn Ruano is a family friend. 

     “It feels like home,” Ruano said one day after leaving her nearby office. Her custom order included kiwis and raspberries atop the açaí. 

     When school is in session, kids flood into the store. 

     “[It] gets busy in the afternoon,” Platt said. 

     Ernie’s Açaí is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. y, 8 a.m.;  8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and on Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.