Business Keeps Focus On Nutrition & Fun
Walk into Focus Nutrition and there are a couple of things a customer will notice quickly.
One is the chalkboard-looking board that looms overhead with 50-plus choices of smoothies, teas, and coffees, with tasty waffles also available. The other thing that comes at you is the welcoming and engaging smile of the business’ co-owner, Valerie Moreno. Here is a people person if there ever was one.
“Sometimes I’ll see a customer come in and I can tell they’re feeling a little down,’’ said Moreno, standing behind the counter of Focus Nutrition on west 2nd Street. “I feel like if they talk to me that I can begin to see a change in their mood. You can help someone to get energized.’’
If the good vibes won’t do that, the wide array of drink selections will make anyone feel better. There are plenty of smoothie/coffee shops to be found in the Rio Grande Valley, but there’s not one quite like Mercedes’ Focus Nutrition. The big board does show some smoothie choices found elsewhere like the oreo blast or butter pecan. Then your eye moves over choices like “Chunky Monkey,’’ or the “Muddy Snickers.’’
The double column of tea choices is even more colorful and varied. Some are named after super heroes and pop culture figures like “Iron Man,’’ or the “Black Panther,’’ or “The Joker.’’ Then there’s the menu choices that fit into Valley culture and preferences. There’s “La Sandia,’’ the “Pica Fresca,’’ and the “Mexican Lollipop.’’ They’re all fun and they’re all good. A taste of the banana-tasting Chunky Monkey is a delight. Just a glance at its chocolatey look with whipped cream on the top is worth a pause to take a picture to post on social media.
And on the bottom of the Focus Nutrition logo on the cup is a saying straight out of Moreno’s message book.
“Your Journey To Greatness,’’ it reads on the cup.
“I’ve created a lot of friendships,’’ Moreno said of moving her business from Donna to Mercedes last May. “It has been a big win to be here.’’
Making It Fun
Moreno gets plenty of help in business and life from Diego Trinidad, her personal and business partner.
Trinidad is a Mercedes native and former Tiger football player who is delighted to have a business in his hometown. He is finding, as is Moreno, the advantages of being centrally located in the Valley, a quick hop over from Expressway 83 as people commute up-and-down the region.
“It’s exciting to open (a business) in my hometown,’’ Trinidad said. “People I’ve know for a while but haven’t seen will come in and they still remember me.’’
The hometown familiarity is nice indeed, as is the goal the couple shares to make the business fun. The drinks named after comic book figures draw young customers, with Moreno recalling teen customers coming in to have an Ironman tea. Promotions featuring the Marvel figures versus DC comic book heroes are fun, Trinidad said, even as he emphasized the drink choices – and the shop’s delicious array of waffles – are intended to draw a diverse mix of customers.
“We get customers from all aspects,’’ Moreno said. “Mechanics, teachers, customers heading home from workout places, we see them all here.’’
There are teas geared for what Trinidad calls “the gym guys.’’ Those drink boost immunity and have ingredients like zinc in them. Up high on the chalk board is a selection called “Tox Tea,’’ and another called “Atomic,’’ that are gym guy’s favorites. For those who don’t lift weights and have the typical Valley taste buds there’s “Sandia Fria,’’ the “Mangonada,’’ and the “Pica Fresa.’’
“We like to keep it entertaining for customers,’’ Trinidad said.
There’s something for everyone, be it the commuter traveling between Valley cities who enjoys a Mid-Valley stop, or the local teacher on her way to-or-from work to get a soothing tea or a fun and tasty smoothie like the Chunky Monkey.
“I’m finding it to be a new experience with new people,’’ Moreno said of the move from Donna to Mercedes. “For me, it’s let see what I can do to reach out and try to help people.’’
The Focus Nutrition is located at 926 W. 2nd Street. It’s open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Weekend hours are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Ricardo D. Cavazos