Smoothie Operator: Unbiased blender that brings wholesome meals to the streets

NEW ORLEANS – Good food and music are New Orleans, Louisiana staples.

Unfortunately, this food usually comes in the form of seafood, gumbo, jambalaya, king cake, and fritters – things that keep your taste buds happy and expand your waistline.

Domonique “Dinero” Meyers from the 5th district, however, offers a delicious alternative to the city’s famous, but sometimes greasy dishes. His Ascent Blends brand organic smoothies got off to a humble start on the New Orleans sidewalks, just a blender and organic fruit.

His efforts towards healthy living have not gone unnoticed – he recently signed a distribution deal with Rouses Markets that will soon see his smoothies and ginger shots on store shelves. (Founded more than 40 years ago in Houma, Louisiana, Rouses is one of the largest independent grocers in the United States.)

Meyers – who prefers to be out with Dinero – understands that health is wealth and hopes his Ascent Blends will create a healthier city. He recently spoke to Zenger News about his company’s success, how the Rouses deal came about and much more.

Percy Crawford interviewed Domonique “Dinero” Meyers for Zenger News.

Dinero is doing one of his workouts. (Courtesy of Dinero Meyers)

Zenger: Tell us about the name of your company and the mission behind it.

Dinero: It’s Ascent Blends; Everything is handmade and freshly made every day. We are your starting shot to become healthier. We are community oriented and care about your health.

Zenger: As far as I know, you made smoothies in the hood and it turned into something big. How did it start

Percy Crawford interviewed Domonique “Dinero” Meyers for Zenger News. (Heidi Malone / Zenger

Dinero: Since I have paid attention to my diet over the years, I founded this company in July 2016. Five years ago I was riding a pink scooter in my neighborhood, 5th division. And I see a building where motorbikes and scooters used to be rented. I said, “This could be a smoothie business here.”

I reached out and spoke to the owner and the numbers were good. But I really wasn’t ready to start a business there. I had never made a smoothie for sale before. The idea just sparked off. I worked for a non-profit organization and asked some people what I should do. They said, “Well, if you can’t get the building, just put up a booth in the neighborhood hair salon.” And I did that.

They also told me to get high quality ingredients. I wanted to make sure my smoothies were healthy. I used a dairy free agave that is better than sugar.

I started selling smoothies in the hair salon. They were an instant hit. I was traveling all over town 24/7. I would line up the entire sidewalk with people who wanted smoothies that weren’t available anywhere else. We didn’t have any healthy options there – the 5th section is full of liquor stores and fried foods.

I trained on the sidewalk every day, people joined in, and I also started running and doing 5K runs. We are definitely about health education and about educating all of our customers and giving them literature and inspiration on how to change their lifestyle. It’s a lot more than just a smoothie.

Zenger: Was it difficult to get those healthy smoothies to take off in a city that isn’t known for healthy restaurants?

Dinero: It was a bit challenging, but it wasn’t difficult. Things changed in the city about three or four years ago. You have started to see some healthier options. I think I had a lot to do with giving people access to such products. It helps my smoothies taste really good. I’ve had people look at my green smoothie like, “Man, this thing probably tastes bad.” Remember, I’m dealing with the hood, so it was just that. It was, “Ugh, I don’t want the green, give me the pink.” But then they would try the green and find out that it is amazing.

I actually shook the culture because I understood that looks can be deceiving when it comes to things like a healthy smoothie. You have to try things out.

Dinero at work on the streets of his hometown New Orleans. (Courtesy of Dinero Meyers)

Zenger: How did the deal with Rouses come about?

Dinero: One of my homies had a meeting with Rouses to find out how to do something together. He brought along some people who already had businesses, from farmers to people who cooked products. He said he wanted to do a seller’s market or something like that at Rouses every week. So I attended the meeting. I’m community based and there were a lot of things at stake in correcting their mistakes. So if they were ready to do the undo, I’ll be in.

That was my whole pitch in the meeting. This is not just about me. It’s about creating opportunities for jobs. It was a decision that I had to make for myself and for others. We’re about four or five months old now and every Saturday we do the market at Rouses on Tchoupitoulas. And very soon they will have my freshly squeezed juices and ginger shots on the shelf in their CBD [Central Business District] Location.

(Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Fern Siegel)

The post Smoothie Operators: Independent Blender That Brings Healthy Foods to the Street first appeared on Zenger News.

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