Darron Robinson and his wife Melanie have been in a healthy mindset since about 2014.
Both are nutrition and health coaches who have been using Herbalife products for “the longest,” he said.
The Willingboro native and his wife Melanie and their business partners Ayana Swiggett, Alexis McNeil and Alanna McGlashen opened Heartbeat Nutrition in Oaklyn on Oct. 29.
“We had come up with the idea a few years ago,” said Darron, who was born in Jersey City, raised in Willingboro, and now lives in Sicklerville. “We liked the idea. We had some partners who also had something similar but we sat on it for a little bit, then COVID hit. Businesses shut down right and left because of COVID.
“We weren’t sure we should make that jump yet. We started experimenting and started off doing it in our parents’ house, that’s where the majority of our support was at, which was in Willingboro. Willingboro showed up for us. They loved it. We were doing it in this cheap blender in our parents’ kitchen.”
He said Herbalife is their protein, meal replacement product. It’s forms the base of their products and they use other ingredients to create a recipe.
“They’re amazing,” he said of the shakes. “Our tea is more of a refresher. We spend countless time game-planning our drinks. A lot of times we game plan them a month or two before we release them. Try them out, mess with the recipes, make sure they’re perfect. Make sure they come out right and that everybody makes them the same way.”
Their shakes are plant-based meal replacements, “not protein shakes. They’re not smoothies, they’re meal replacements. When you try to eat healthy, meal prepping takes up a lot of time. A lot of people don’t have time for that … You can just come in and get your healthy meal in a cup and make sure it tastes delicious, not like a protein shake that tastes chalky.”
Their shakes have 24 grams of protein, 21 vitamins and minerals, are under 300 calories and under 12 grams of sugar, he added. The protein waffles are the same.
The location of the Black-owned business at 200 West Clinton Ave. previously housed Philadelphia American Shuffleboard & Billiard company. But that business closed years ago.
“It fell into our lap when we decided to make the move,” said Robinson, who originally wanted to put the business in Collingswood. “What we were doing at home was working, so we decided to get a location. This location has been empty for years … A lot of people were trying to get this place and had no luck with it. It was a time I gave up on it and looked around. Medford was a spot I was looking at, Voorhees, Sicklerville and Haddon Heights. This one fell back into our lap again and everything worked out perfectly.”
As we head into 2022 where people will recommit themselves to fitness, diets and their health, here are some other “clean eating” restaurants, juice or smoothie bars, that opened in the last year:
Burlington Nutrition, Burlington City
This health food store features more than 50 flavors of meal replacement shakes and energy teas, filled with Herbalife ingredients, owner Juliana Knazek says. She owns the business with her husband Scott.
The Burlington Nutrition Facebook page refers to it as a “fast food hot spot” with collagen fizzes, “fat-reduction shots,” protein coffees and more.
It opened in June in a 1,000-square foot space they spent about $10,000 to renovate, she said.
Juliana began drinking the same Herbalife-ingredient shakes from Eastampton Nutrition about a year and a half ago. Then she bought the ingredients and started blending her own shakes at home.
Both Juliana and Scott, who reside in Lumberton, have full-time jobs and a young son but keep the business going with assistance.
Go: 563 High St., Suite A; facebook.com/burlington_nutrition_nj
Ashley Coyne received great support when she opened her plant-based eatery (originally called Heart Beet Kitchen and rebranded as goodbeet in April) in Westmont in 2015, which prompted her to expand her concept.
Coyne opened a seasonal location in Ocean City four years later. A Cherry Hill location opened under the ownership of a franchisee in December 2019, but closed three months later “due to COVID-19” and the area being “a tough location,” Coyne said.
She opened the newest goodbeet location Oct. 11 in Bordentown, replacing a former vegan restaurant.
The rebrand happened in April as part of Coyne’s company coyne collective (a multi-concept group that owns and operates goodbeet, the beet creamery ice cream shop and new mkt).
The Bordentown location has the same look and menu as its sisters. Smoothies, coffee and baked goods are available for now.
Go: 1 1/2 Crosswicks St., Bordentown, 609-379-6015; eatgoodbeet.com/
Good Life Organic Kitchen, Cherry Hill
The restaurant, which has five tables and a minibar for a dine-in option, offers 10 different smoothie options, smoothie bowls with 20 toppings to choose from, salads, quinoa power bowls, a variety of breakfast sandwiches, flatbreads, vegetarian burgers and coffees in a grab-and-go setup.
Owner John Bennett has a background in retail, health and wellness and looked to open the first South Jersey location of the Pennsylvania franchise in Camden County or Gloucester County. He settled on the space in Heritage Square shopping mall in Cherry Hill.
“I’ve worked in Cherry Hill — on and off — in retail for the last 10 years, so I’m familiar with the area,” Bennett said. “This being in close proximity to Philadelphia … just being close to like the main hub of the area, I think was kind of important.”
Go: 1871 Route 70 East Suite 8, 856-528-2612; facebook.com/GLOKitchenCherryHill
Groovy Smoovies, Haddonfield
The movie-themed smoothie, er uh, “smoovie”, shop opened its doors one year ago.
Offerings include specialty “smoovies” and fresh-pressed juices. Classic fruit combos include mango, pineapple and banana, strawberry, banana and blueberry. Then there are specialty “smoovies,” such as “Purple Reign” or “Mumbai Mango”.
Owner Antonne Jones, a Mount Laurel resident, is a South Philadelphia native who has lived in South Jersey for 15 years.
In addition to being an author and book publisher, Jones says he’s also a screen writer and film producer who “enjoys good smoothies.”
Customized drinks are made with fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the website, “and have been named after Hollywood classic movies but with our little twist to them.”
Go: 223 Kings Highway. 856-533-2010; groovysmoovies.com/
Lakes Shakes, Medford
Guests can order Flavor Blasts, which are fruit and vegetable smoothies; Meal Makers, meal supplement smoothies; and Recovery Done Right, post-work smoothies. The smoothie and snack bar is tucked inside Medford Fitness and serves healthy shakes and snacks. It opened this fall.
Danny Ernst, a trainer at the gym, and his wife Jennifer Henderson decided to take over the vacant space where the gym’s juice bar once was.
While Ernst is a personal trainer and running coach with a sports and fitness nutrition certification, prior to joining the fitness world, he spent two decades in the restaurant business.
Ernst said previously that he would like to add a handful of grab-and-go breakfast, lunch or dinner items that pair well with the smoothies.
Go: 3 Nelson Drive, 856-600-2948; facebook.com/mlakesshakes
9th Street Nutrition, Ocean City
The shop, which opened on Nov. 11, gets right to it.
9th Street offered a “Grinch” protein doughnut recently, which was mint chocolate, white chocolate and had was only 87 calories and 10 grams of protein. It was green, of course.
Owner Debbie Cappuccio serves hot protein shakes, cold protein shakes, which can act as post-workout nutritious meal replacements, energy teas and more.
Another one of their recent drinks featured was an “Abominable Snowman Energy Tea”, which included raspberry, lime, mango, lemonade and blue raspberry.
And there were the Christmas Tree Cake protein doughnuts.
Yes, low calorie, high in protein, low in sugar.
Go: 507 E. 9th St., 609-545-8290; facebook.com/9thStreetNutrition
This cafe offers four standard bowls — acai, green, pitaya and mango-pineapple — and six different smoothies. Overnight oats and waffles also are available.
There are plenty of toppings to add on to any of the items.
Maniti Patel and her husband Swatang opened their first franchise in Moorestown on Nov. 17 to share their love for acai bowls.
“We’re very excited to be able to bring this franchise to the South Jersey area, especially Moorestown,” Patel said. “We feel really strongly about this brand and the product that we sell.”
Go: 1604 Nixon Dr., 856-324-3680; facebook.com/sobolmoorestown
Swedesboro Nutrition, Swedesboro
Stacey Lusby, owner and operator, had her grand opening on April 1. The Salem native offered cardio drumming classes in Salem, Carney’s Point and in Delaware prior to opening her storefront.
Her Black-owned shop offers protein meal replacement smoothies that have 17 grams of proteins, 21 vitamins and minerals and are “delicious”, she adds. They also offer thermogenic energy boosting teas that are “good, clean, safe energy with no crash, while promoting focus and clarity.”
“Swedesboro Nutrition is a happy, healthy hangout bar for the entire family, offering all things healthy, including pre- and post-workout drinks, healthy snacks, immunity support drinks and more,” Lusby added. “I also help people reach their wellness goals by creating a wellness plan using Herbalife products, weigh-ins, meal plan and support during their wellness journey. As an Herbalife Independent Distributor, I specialize in health and wellness using Herbalife products.”
Lusby’s most popular shakes are peanut butter pie, Chocolate Elvis, mint chip, banana nut bread, Pumpkin Blondie, vanilla birthday cake. Her most popular thermogenic energy teas are Wonder Woman, Melon Bomb, Tropical Sunrise, Skittles, Jack Frost and Berry & Bright. Her protein pumpkin-caramel iced coffee has been a hit, as well.
“I absolutely love what I do,” Lusby said.
Go: 505 Beckett Road, Suite 4, 856-975-6302; facebook.com/coachstaceylusby
TopNotch Spot, Palmyra
Looks can be really deceiving.
The healthy shakes look like sugary-loaded milkshakes. Then there are the protein waffles. The waffles, which come in regular flavor or chocolate, also can include whipped cream, and have fruit added on top such as blueberries, bananas and strawberries.
Those waffles have 22 grams of protein, 2 grams of sugar and 260 calories. High in protein, yet low in calories.
TopNotch also offers energy drinks, protein and regular coffee, protein hot chocolate and protein mini doughnuts.
TopNotch, which opened on Jan. 8, is owned and operated by Jensy Urena and his wife Yari. Darron Robinson of Heartbeat Nutrition said he’s learned a lot from Yari.
The TopNotch location, which is near the corner of Broad and Cinnaminson Avenue, once housed Mama’s Cookies. It sits across from Palmyra Pharmacy.
Go: 537 Cinnaminson Ave., 1st floor, 856-543-4760; facebook.com/TopNotchNutrition1
Vegans Are Us, Atlantic City
Sharonda Harris-Bunton opened her second Vegans Are Us location over the summer, this one at the Tanger Factory Outlets Center in Atlantic City. Her first location is in downtown Vineland.
The Pittsgrove Township resident doesn’t plan on stopping with two, either. Her mission is to create healthier lifestyles for people – all over.
Harris-Button co-owns the Atlantic City location with former Atlantic City mayoral candidate Pamela Thomas-Fields, who ran in 2020 on a platform of “Healthy, Wealthy and Wise,” according to the Press of Atlantic City. The other co-owner is Antoinette Miller, a commercial and residential real estate/commercial finance consultant.
Both locations have the same menu, which offers 100-percent plant-based breakfast, lunch and dinner, in addition to desserts, shakes and smoothies.
The Atlantic City restaurant operates under the fixed outlet hours, which vary by season, Harris-Bunton said.
Go: 122 N. Michigan Ave, 609-449-8045; facebook.com/Vegans-Are-Us-Atlantic-City-Tanger-Outlets
Help support local journalism with a digital subscription.