Island Bowls brings traditional Hawaiian fare to New Ipswich

  • Jaden Horrocks whips up a smoothie at Island Bowls Thursday as Jeremy Philbrick looks on.  Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Jaden Horrocks whips up a smoothie at Island Bowls Thursday as Kristin Fujinaga-Page looks on. Staff photos by Ben Conant

  • Kristin Fujinaga-Page makes a bowl at Island Bowls, now open for business in downtown New Ipswich. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Island Bowls is now open for business in downtown New Ipswich.

  • Jaden Horrocks makes a smoothie at Island Bowls Thursday.  Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/2/2021 12:19:39 PM

Those looking for a taste of the Hawaiian culture have to look no further than downtown New Ipswich.

Island Bowls LLC officially opened in the former Short Stop at 584 Turnpike Road last Monday, expanding from its seasonal food truck in Milford to add a brick and mortar location that will be open year round.

Owners Jeremy Philbrick and Kristin Fujinaga-Page decided to add the permanent location after seeing the response to the truck last summer.

“We got a lot of questions about where we were going,” Fujinaga-Page said of the end of the season. “It didn’t sit well with us when people asked where we were going to be next.” So they decided to pursue opening a spot in New Ipswich that wasn’t dictated by the seasons and keep their customers happy – and coming back.

The former coffee shop location seemed like the perfect solution for Island Bowls, as it has a drive-through window that will allow for a safe way to begin operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic and moving forward make it an easy way for customers to grab a quick bite to eat or a drink at any time.

Currently, Island Bowls is operating the drive-through window only, as the lobby is small and not big enough to support social distancing. There is also a walk-up window, but that will be open depending on the weather. Through the first week, business has been steady Fujinaga-Page said, seeing many customers who frequented the food truck in Milford during the summer.

“It’s been overwhelmingly good,” Fujinaga-Page said.

When the warmer weather begins, Philbrick said they will have picnic tables in front of the eatery that customers can sit down and enjoy whatever treat they pick from the menu – an acai or spirulina bowl, shave ice or breakfast sandwich.

The idea for the food truck came from Philbrick’s first trip to Hawaii. Fujinaga-Page’s father is Hawaiian and she was born on the island, but moved to California when she was young. When she brought Philbrick to the town of Haleiwa on the island of Oahu in 2018 to visit her family, they indulged in the local food.

On their morning walks they’d grab a coffee and then an acai bowl for lunch. Later on they’d pick up a shave ice. The local fare had Philbrick hooked.

“He said ‘we should just do that back home,’” Fujinaga-Page said.

And once Philbrick had that idea, it was something that had to be done.

“One of the things that stuck with me was the culture and the food,” Philbrick said. “We don’t have anything like it here.”

So using an old flatbed trailer, Philbrick – with the help of his brothers – spent six months creating the Island Bowls food truck. They brought it to some events and then found the spot in Milford. The truck, which opened in June, was perfect for COVID times.

“That was a way we could control the flow of people,” Philbrick said.

Based on the popularity and success, they knew there would be an interest in the business year round, even though that wasn’t the initial plan.

“We thought it would be fun to travel around with it,” Fujinaga-Page said.

They chose New Ipswich because of the prime location and Fujinaga-Page’s familiarity with the town after previously living there.

“I had a lot of connections and relationships there,” she said. It was also proving difficult to find an available space with a drive-through.

The menu is a mixture of their love of the island and classic New England food.

The acai bowl and spirulina bowls, which are both gluten and dairy free, are both topped with granola, fresh strawberries, bananas and blueberries, raw coconut flakes and bee pollen as well as drizzled in honey. The difference is in the base. The acai bowl is a blend of organic acai puree. The spirulina bowl is a blend of blue spirulina, pineapple and coconut cream. There are other toppings that can be added for an additional cost.

The shave ice is a big mover and can be ordered on its own with a variety of flavors to choose from, as well as on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

“We do not make them small,” Fujinaga-Page said.

Something new they added for the New Ipswich location was breakfast sandwiches, which all have egg and cheese and can be combined with sausage, bacon or ham on a bagel or English muffin.

And since Short Stop closed, there has been a need for a spot to get coffee in town.

“We’ve got a variety of different things for different people,” Philbrick said.

Island Bowls is open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 6 a.m to 2 p.m.

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