‘Revibe’ juicery revives family business struggling during the pandemic

Brandon Rodriguez, Community News Reporter

Inglewood resident Marvyn Rodriguez, 25, has been helping at his parents’ bistro-style restaurant, Port Pantry, in San Pedro the past four years.

Things were going fine but then, COVID-19 struck and the restaurant had to close its dine-in operation.

“The pandemic…really slowed the restaurant down,” Rodriguez said recently in a video interview.

Worried, he thought about how he might make a difference.

He figured people were indoors more, not wanting to go out as much but still needing to be nourished with healthy food.

“So I came up with the idea to try and start a delivery service with my mom’s juices,” he said.

He wondered if it would work, considering some of the most popular restaurants in town sell unhealthy or fast food.

Mother and son pose in snowy background wearing winter coats.
Marvyn and Rosa Rodriguez pose for a family photo. Courtesy of Marvyn Rodriguez.

He worried they’d “see it from a different standpoint…and say, ‘No one really wants that around here.’ Yet if you go to Santa Monica, if you go to Manhattan Beach, you see how popular it is and wonder, ‘Why can’t we have it here?’”

That’s why he wanted to focus on the healthiest food offering, the juices. About 32% of Inglewood residents 18 and older are obese and 12% have diabetes, compared to24% and 10% for all people in the county, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Could Rodriguez make his town healthier one juice at a time with his fresh juicery brand Revibe? 

He hoped so. He took the plunge in late July, setting up an Instagram page, @Revibe_juicery.

He feared risking all that he invested and the business not working out as he thought it would.

In the first couple of months, the business didn’t do so well.

There were a few problems. One stemmed from his juices’ low prices, ranging from $3 for a “Wellness Shot” and $6 for most regular juices.

“I told my mom, ‘Let’s do them for a portion of the price that other companies are selling them at. You go anywhere like Pressed Juicery or Kreation and you see them for $9 or $10 per juice. So I thought, ‘Let’s make them more affordable,’ especially living in Inglewood and Los Angeles where it’s a lower income economy. So I pushed in that direction,” he said.

He’s glad he did but with that, comes less wiggle room when things go wrong.

For instance, one day, Rodriguez had precisely scheduled his delivery route all around Inglewood and other parts of Los Angeles. He zipped around from home to home, dropping off juices and feeling pretty good.

Meanwhile, back at the restaurant, his mother, Rosa Rodriguez got a call from a customer canceling an order.

“Our hard work making the juice is down the drain,” Rosa Rodriguez recalled thinking.

She called her son to tell him. He was bummed.

“When I’m driving three to four hours around Los Angeles, it becomes inconvenient to miss a sale,” he said. “It’s tough because everything is pre-order so at that point I just have to be lucky if I can find someone interested to buy them.”

“But life being what it is, nothing happens perfectly,” he added.

Another problem that often arises is safety-related.

“It’s easy for people when I’m delivering orders to just come outside without their masks, but I always tell them, ‘Please be courteous to me and wear your mask because we’re all trying to be safe with the whole process,’” he said.

Juices of different colors lined up.
A product photo showcasing Revibe Juicery juices. (Photo courtesy of Marvyn Rodriguez)

He persevered, hoping the competitive pricing and the benefits of natural juices would draw loyal customers. 

By September, he had hit his stride, he started seeing return customers and his spirits seemed to lift.

“I finally have the menu and pricing down,” he thought. “Now, I can focus on quality and what I want people to taste.”

Steven Tapia, a customer since Revibe first launched, said he appreciates the healthier alternative Revibe provides in Inglewood.

Marvyn “makes sure he picks up a fresh batch of fruit every morning, and begins to prepare and squeeze to make it into liquid form and it’s all healthy products. No artificial flavor is in the drinks, just all real natural fruit. The pricing is great, too, very affordable, and you pay for what you would like to consume, especially if it’s healthy,” Tapia said in a phone interview.

Thankful for how well the business was doing so far, Rodriguez decided recently that he wanted to give back to the community, as his parents tend to do during the holidays.

Most Thanksgivings, he said, “I would always go out with my dad who…would give back to the community and give out blankets and water. I thought it would be dope if this year I helped and passed out hand sanitizer and face masks because of the pandemic we are in. With the weather getting colder and more windy, I also plan on passing out blankets and sweaters to those in need.”

Rodriguez reported doing just that with his first ever Revibe Thanksgiving event this year, providing supplies to about 50 people in Inglewood and nearby communities.