Transplanted from the New Jersey-area, by way of studying at Oklahoma Baptist University, pre-med student Marc Sambolin chose to step up to the plate when he couldn't find a ready-made solution to his hunger.

Note: This is one in a series of articles that focuses on local, one-of-a-kind businesses –– who they are, what they offer, and how they help Shawnee stand out as a unique and thriving city where families interact, invest their time and talent, and work together as a community.

Transplanted from the New Jersey-area, by way of studying at Oklahoma Baptist University, pre-med student Marc Sambolin chose to step up to the plate when he couldn't find a ready-made solution to his hunger.

As an athlete, he was struggling to find healthful options for food after practice, so he began making his own smoothies.

Then it occurred to the 21-year-old entrepreneur to fill that void in Shawnee — not a hard leap, due to studying business for three years before switching his major.

“There are lots of hamburger places in town, but I couldn't find any options that weren't too heavy or I wouldn't feel guilty over later,” he said.

So, in July, he started the Surf Bar, selling his juices and fruit bowls from a small trailer at 609 N. Harrison.

The response has been very supportive, he said.

The direction Sambolin is taking with his Surf Bar coincidentally has aligned almost perfectly with the goals of the Blue Zones Project, a well-being initiative gearing up in the community.

“Some of the Blue Zones people came by and ate, and left me a card,” Sambolin said. “They are super excited about it.”

He said he's in the process of becoming approved with the group now. It shouldn't take too much work, he said his menu already hit almost all the bullet-point goals encouraged by the Blue Zones Project initiative.

“We have even provided an easy way to exercise at our site by adding a volleyball court,” he said.

Sambolin said customers are welcome to come and play in the sand while frequenting his shop; he also hopes to organize some tournaments at some point.

“I want the food to be fun to enjoy, aesthetic and good for you,” he said.

Sambolin hit the mark with The Surf Bar's offerings — they are colorful and chock full of organic ingredients and nutrients.

He said customers will soon see some additions; he has just completely revamped the Surf Bar's menu, incorporating some meal items, as well as a new color — blue.

“There's a trendy new thing called Blue Majik that we want to provide as an option in some of our choices,” he said. “It's a plant-based blue powder derived from spirulina (an algae superfood prized for being nutrient-dense).”

He said he plans to stick around Shawnee.

“People here have really shown love and appreciation for it,” he said. “This is only the beginning.”

There's a real market for healthier options in the southern states, he said, and he doesn't mind being on board for that.

“We need to get those health statistics up higher,” he said.

He said his goal is to help people get healthier now, even while he is still learning how to save lives in the medical field.

Sambolin said he couldn't keep the business in full swing without the ongoing support from his girlfriend, Kaleigh Simmons, and other friends.

“She's been really helpful,” he said, “and my friends are there for me, too.”

Sambolin said residents on the west side of the city should watch for a second Surf Bar, on the east side of Kickapoo between Wystle and Circle D Pawn, that's coming in the next few weeks.

“My target date is somewhere around Aug. 20 to 24,” he said.

He said the second site will be partially indoors, but will also have chairs and tables outdoors.

The new site offers a more convenient setup, especially once winter comes.

Its hours will be more expanded, as well, he said.

“The Harrison location is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Sambolin said. “But the new place will offer breakfast, as well, so the hours tentatively should be around 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.”