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Keeping Saadia's Juicebox open during COVID pandemic

Posted at 2:47 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 14:50:34-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Saadia Yasmin owns Saadia's Juicebox & Yoga Bar on 2nd Street in Jackson Ward. While the yoga bar has closed due to COVID-19, she said she's continuing to serve immunity shots and plant-based meals to customers who are looking to eat healthy during these stressful times .

"It's very stressful, I would say. This is why I'm able to understand the position our customers are in , because I feel the stress myself and the fact that I still have a few people coming in and supporting us and we're able to be open does relieve a little bit of stress," she told Eat It, Virginia! co-host Scott Wise during a Zoom chat. "At this point, the only reason I'm here is to support my staff and to support our community. These are the only two reasons that we continue to be open. And anyone who knows me knows how important this health and wellness message is and how important it is to make sure we're keeping up with our health. I know the governor said all non-essential businesses should be closing and there's some restrictions and restaurants, but I genuinely think of us as a very essential business at this time."

A lightly-edited transcription of our conversation with Saadia Yasmin can be found below:

Scott Wise 0:02
Good morning, Saadia.

Saadia
Good morning, Scott.

Thanks for having me.

Scott Wise
How are you doing today?

Saadia
I'm hanging in there. I would say.

Scott Wise
What does that mean these days?

Saadia
I always tell people, we're in the business of immunity and community.

And in a time like this, when everybody is scrambling to take care of their health, we consider ourselves to be very essential, not only to our staff, but to our community.

I'm in this tough spot of saying 'hey, come support me, but also be safe.'

And then also this pressure as a small business of being open, making sure my team has their bare essentials to pay their rent. But also, you know, providing a service that I have for my community in the last few years to keep them healthy.

Scott Wise
What are you doing to ensure not only your customers' safety, but your staff, and your safety?

Saadia
Right. So, for us, you know, this is a family business.

Everybody who works here is like our family. So even before the governor announced everything on how businesses should be operating, we already took all of our seating away.

So we only have grab-and-go, no one can sit in this space.

We're doing Door Dash and Grub hub now. We're doing touchless payment. We also have our menus online, so you can actually order, pay, and pick up curbside.

So we're doing everything we can do not just to protect our customers, but also to protect ourselves, to protect our staff, to make sure everyone is keeping up with their immunity.

Scott Wise
Being a health-conscious business, you're constantly trying to hammer home to your customers, I presume, the importance of staying healthy and maintaining that health, eating the right foods.

Now that we're in the middle of a health crisis, quite literally, has your messaging changed? Have you made it more specific to what's going on?

Saadia
No. I think we have been saying this since the day we opened.

I think a lot of people come to us and say, 'Oh, it's a fad. People are becoming plant-based.' But it really isn't. People have more knowledge of the supply chain and what's going on in your food and what you're putting into your mouth and how it affects your health.

So we've been saying this since day one.

We continue to bring that message to our customers and people who come through our door. That's why they continue to come in and support us, which has been amazing to have that community behind us, to support us, to support our staff, and keep us going one more day.

Scott Wise
I know there's no special juice you can drink to prevent this particular virus, but in general, what would you tell people they should be ingesting to stay healthy?

Saadia
Yeah, so immunity shots. Very important. We actually do cold pressed shots of ginger, lemon wheatgrass.

Scott Wise
I hear the ingredients. I recognized the names, but what exactly are they doing for me?

Saadia
Everything.

They're boosting your immunity. They're keeping you healthy. There is no magic pill. It's eating right.

And I keep telling people this isn't a vacation. This isn't loading on carbs and unhealthy food.

This is the time to actually stay within your routines and make sure that you're moving. You're eating right and you're staying healthy.

Scott Wise
It's so hard, Saadia.

When I when I go to the office and work, I just don't eat. I'm working, working, working, working and then I get home and I have dinner.

Now I'm working from home and I am eating non stop and I'm eating crap. What do I do? Help me out!

Saadia
I think a lot of us are having that problem.

And I think the most important thing is routine right?

The first thing is, get out of bed on time. And then secondly, everything you eat, you should always ask yourself is this nourishing me?

And in a time like this, you have to because this is real and you know, all of the implications it's having on our communities is real and we want to be mindful of that.

So mindful of everything that goes into our body and the way we move as well. I know it sounds simple and it really is.

Scott Wise
No, it's not simple. It's very hard. I wish it was simple. I'm glad you think it's simple.

So what are your customers telling you when they come in? What are the some of the stories that they're sharing?

Saadia
A lot of people are happy that we're here because we are probably one of the only the plant-based places open right now. I think.

So primarily, we function completely in plant based vegan food, foods that nourish your body.

Our wellness shots have been very, very popular.

A lot of our customers are just happy to see us being here to help them because a lot of them are still working and they need to eat, they need to drink and stay healthy.

Scott Wise
In addition to the shots, what kind of food are we talking about?

Saadia
We do plant-based salads. Everything is made in house here. We do things like Buffalo cauliflower salads. We do Thai dragon salads. We do wraps. We do things like chia seeds, overnight oats that are all raw and vegan.

We also have the best bars in town. People say we have the best energy bars in town. And they are. They're really good. They're just a burst of fat and energy.

Scott Wise
You make them yourself?

Saadia
Yeah, we need to make everything ourselves. We also have a full espresso bar. So we do do local coffee, but we do superfood lattes. So we do lattes like beetroot lattes, tumeric lattes, These are great for boosting your immune system.

Scott Wise
I know where I'm going when I get to leave this house finally.

Saadia
We're trying our best to make this process as seamless as possible, if you choose to come out of the house.

Scott Wise
I was going ask you about that. Being a small business owner is difficult. Being a small business owner in the city of Richmond is extra difficult. What is it like being a small business owner in the city of Richmond during a global pandemic?

Saadia
Very stressful, I would say.

This is why I'm able to understand the position our customers are in and the position our employees are in, because I feel the stress myself and, you know, the fact that I still have a few people coming in and supporting us and we're able to be open does relieve a little bit of stress.

But you know, at this point, the only reason I'm here is to support my staff and to support our community.

These are the only two reasons that we continue to be open.

And anyone who knows me knows how important this health and wellness message is for me and how important it is to make sure we're keeping up with our health.

The governor said all non-essential businesses should be closing and there's some restrictions, but I genuinely think of us as a very essential business at this time.

Scott Wise 8:30
Any final message you have for the people of Richmond, your customers you might not have seen for the last couple couple of weeks.

Saadia
I just want to let everybody know we are still here. We're open 9 - 5 weekdays and 10 - 5 on the weekends. So we're here seven days a week, for now.

We're doing everything possible from touchless payment to online ordering, we're on Instagram. We're posting every day.

We're really using social media to get our message out and let customers know we're here.

So I understand what situation everyone's in. If you can support, please do. We're still here operating for you and for everyone in our community.

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