When friends Bianca Vazquez, Kristen Kane, Reggie Abreu and Billy Grubbs decided to open a nutrition club together about six months ago, they had a few requirements for their ideal location. It needed to be between Washington and Baltimore, close to a Metro or MARC stop and have a business district. There were seven spots on their list to visit.
The charming white-bricked building at 344 Main St. in Old Town, most recently a campaign office, was their first stop. They didn’t need to see anymore. They knew they had found the perfect place for Rise Up Nutrition, a health and wellness bar that offers shakes, teas and protein-rich snacks.
“Laurel has such an amazing feel,” Kane said. “It’s such a smash-up of people. This little corner lot caught our heart.”
Though not Laurel residents themselves (at least not yet), the quartet of owners said they have been overwhelmed and overjoyed by the welcome they have received in the Laurel community since their April 29 opening. Some residents are already regulars, while other Main Street business owners and employees pop in frequently. Laurel Mayor Craig Moe and Ward 1 Councilmember Valerie Nicholas attended the grand opening and ribbon cutting and crowds at the May 11 Main Street Festival were so large they had to recruit family members to pass out flyers and wash dishes.
“We were really humbled by that,” Vazquez said of the grand opening.
All of the offerings at Rise Up Nutrition have Herbalife Nutrition supplements as their base product. The shakes come in dozens of flavors, offer 24 vitamins and minerals and act as a meal replacement. The teas complement the shakes and provide extra energy. There are boosters and upgrades available, as well as sport nutrition offerings. The owners will work with kids, women who are pregnant and those who need a low-glycemic diet to customize menu offerings so that they are appropriate.
The goal of a storefront nutrition club is to offer busy individuals and families a convenient and fast way to access healthy shakes and teas, Vazquez said.
She and Kane also run a nonprofit organization, Beloved Community Incubator, in Washington. Abreu and Grubbs work full-time in nutrition and fitness. All four are independent distributors of Herbalife products, which they said helped them all lose weight and increase energy. They hope Rise Up will also be of service to those who may be looking for a side business or part-time, flexible income.
Most of all, the owners said they want Rise Up to be a true community space where people can support each other.
“In a culture where we’re isolated, what does it mean to have a community space but still be on-the-go?” Kane asked.
The four say health and wellness is just as important at the community level as it is on the individual level, Vazquez said. Rise Up Nutrition hopes to eventually offer running clubs, walking groups and healthy happy hours. Each owner has ideas of how the business can become more involved in the community, with ideas like sponsoring youth sports teams.
“We’re really committed to this community,” Vazquez said. “It’s going to be our place of investing for a long time.”