First off, an apology. If you have had any issues with strawberries recently, I am Sorry. Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, but they are not easy to get to the middle of New Mexico looking good. We have a new grower coming online and I think the quality will be much stronger. Thanks for your patience. And as they say in the produce world, “When life gives you over-ripe strawberries, make strawberry lemonade.”
So that brings me to my next point this week, our Juice Bar. If you have been around our business for longer than the lifespan of a moth, you know that we try a lot of stuff in our business model. I have been accused of “shooting first, aiming second.” It might not be the best business approach, but when I get ex-cited about something, I like to launch a test balloon and then see how our customers dig it. If you like it, then we expand. If it flops, then we crumble it up and throw in the (ever-growing) compost heap of Manure Ideas.
So we started a juice test market in late 2019. The idea was keep it simple. No added water, flavors, or sugar. Just have fun with some juice and allow folks to not only eat their fruits & veggies but drink them too. We bought a small commercial juicer to give it a go. I loved the juice. Crazy thing is a lot of people loved the juice. Fresh, unpasteurized, Organic. And since we are getting the fruits/veggies directly from the farm, you will not find a better value anywhere in the country.
As the demand for these juices went nuts, we started to realize the limitations in our starter kit juice bar. So for the past few weeks we have limited our juices as we “tooled up” our juice barn. Our citrus juicer is still at the spa getting a makeover, but our new cold press juicer is online and squeezing to pleasing. Look for more juices and nectar online now.
Here is the full circle part of the strawberry story. Instead of cutting ties with the strawberry grower who kept sending over-ripe berries, we decided to cut tops instead. So we are still working with them but you will just see/taste their strawberries in our pies and juices and not as fresh strawberries in your order. And I am willing to bet that we are the only place in the state who offers freshly pressed straw-berry juice. Try them out this week. So good. And they will be gone when the strawberry harvest wraps up in a month.
Moving on from juices…Meal Kits. You know when you watch You Tube and see someone on a soar off the high dive only to do an insane belly-flop. It looks so painful, but you can’t help but laugh. I consider our Meal Kit expansion of 2020 kinda like that belly-flop; so painful, but you just can’t help but laugh.
Here is the quick backstory. We launched a small meal kit test at the same time we began the juice bar. Again testing the waters, sticking a toe in the deep end. It did well. Way better than expected. So we hired a chef, tripled the offerings, created an in-house kitchen space in our warehouse and were ready for the best.
Then the Corona craziness hit and our sales of Meal Kits exploded 1000% as folks were not going to restaurants. Sourcing product was hard, our chef left, and we could not fill all of the meal kits we had sold. Insert visual of a belly flop off Olympic plat-form. Ouch.
But we rubbed some Organic aloe vera on our burns and are back on the board. This time from the low dive. The 1-meter board… where hairy Norwegians are meant to jump from. So my goal for the meal kits (now) is the same as our juice bar; keep it simple, keep it fresh and tasty. Limited offering to begin with and the menu will expand as we streamline the process.
Other than that, everything else is looking great. All of our local suppliers have caught up to the new “norm” in the pandemic and are doing great. Thank you for supporting us and all of our New Mexican partner companies. We are staffed up and ready for whatever comes our way. Let’s open the state back up in a safe and thoughtful way. And as always, stay safe amigos.