Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. They set up shop in the Magnuson Parking lot, across the street from the shopping center. The orange and purple Juicy Rover with the tent and picnic table was hard to miss, a perfect location to attract attention, to draw in customers with a yen for organic, non-dairy, non-gluten natural smoothies, juices and summer treats.
The only problem is, the group of Juicy Rover owners isn’t sure how long they can stay in that location and are hoping to find a permanent place to sell their wares. Permanent, that is, when they are in town between fairs and festivals.
DeLeon Johnson bought and customized the Juicy Rover mobile food unit in March of 2015. His grandfather had owned a farmer’s market in Ohio and DeLeon grew up being around fruits and vegetables.
He ended up marketing products for a tobacco company, but “That became way too corporate for me. I saved my money and bought a delivery truck, and customized it, and went into business selling vegan dank treats in LA. A food truck has always been a dream of mine.”
After seven months, DeLeon says that Los Angeles was not the best place for a small business and he put the truck in storage and went to Costa Rica where he met Akasha Song, a traveler who was attending music festivals all around the world. It turned out that Akasha had also wanted to have a food truck and the two men became partners.
Akasha had been the chief marketing officer for a chicken wing chain and says he decided to quit the corporate ladder. “I didn’t want to climb any higher. I believe in this new world, I believe in our product and how I want my diet to be.”
Nederland residents for the past four years, Akasha and DeLeon got the Juicy Rover out of storage and drove it to Nederland where they will be based, while traveling to events in the summer. They arrived in Ned in late May when snow still covered the ground. They prepared the truck for business and headed to the Beanstalk festival in Westcliffe.
“We did better than any other vendor there because it was hot and we had a cool, healthy food option.”
Adding a few other partners to the business, DeLeon and Akasha figured they could offer their product to local residents in between being on the road. They applied for and received a vendor and business permit through the town and all they need now is a permanent place to set up shop.
One of their most popular menu items is the Acai Bowl a phenomenal dish using Acai sorbet as its base and then loaded with granola, coconut, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, almonds, raisins, cinnamon, agave and hemp seeds. Acai is the new superfood, and as the sorbet melts, the fruits and flavors combine in each spoonful, fresh and refreshing and loaded with crunch and sweetness.
Akasha’s roommate and partner is Cory Simmons who says, “This is a beautiful idea. It is great to see it in seed form on its way to blossoming and continue growing. Who doesn’t like savoring healthy delicious frozen food treats. This is my first time in Colorado and I like it.”
Matt Hylton came from Arizona and is a friend of Cory’s from Illinois. He says, “Now that I found Nederland, I am going to live and die here. This is an opportunity that has been thrown in my lap.”
Also, in the group, is Autumm Simmons, 7, who was the definitely the Most Valuable Player at Beanstalk, charming all who stopped to visit the Juicy Rover.
As the group the travels the responsibility changes; sometimes DeLeon and Akasha are out front and the others in the back working, and then it shifts. Festivals are a high volume business.
The team says they are proud of their products which are created from all organic fruits and vegetables from locals farms. They are also reaching out to obscure areas of the world, looking to amp up their ingredients and make them as unique as they can.
Every now and then the four partners sit down at the picnic table, proclaiming, “Shot time,” and they clink their plastic shot cups and down their ginger lemon hit or their turmeric pick me up. The spicy herb shots give the digestive system a boost and clear one’s head.
“We don’t drink alcohol and the shots give us energy, a nice fresh way to have a drink with friends.”
Look for the Juicy Rover when the gypsy smoothie/juice vendors get back to town