Healthy fare at Downtown Nutrition
Like so many others, Sonya Rosario and Oscar Alicea found themselves out of work during the height of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the husband-and-wife duo found a way to turn adversity into an opportunity.
“Her parents own a few stores like this, and they were actually telling us about this for years and opening a business like this ... They always wanted us to do something like this, because they’re doing great. Once coronavirus hit, we said now’s the time. Neither of us was working, so we said, ‘let’s do it,’” Alicea said.
That business became Downtown Nutrition, located at 14 Central Ave.
Alicea said that, when they were looking for a place to set up shop, there was never any town in mind but Hammonton.
“Since we live in the area, we always wanted this to be in this town. We walked around and saw a few spots open. As soon as we saw the ‘for rent’ sign, she said, ‘This is the one. We need it.’ Everything went smooth after that,” Alicea said.
Alicea said that the interior underwent a major renovation, and that the end result was worth the effort.
“We always get compliments about how good it looks. It took a lot of hours overnight. We’d like to do more, but, for now, everybody seems to be pleased with it ... It was a struggle in the beginning, putting everything together, but we made it work. We opened in January, and, from then on, it was little baby steps to where we are now,” Alicea said.
Rosario said that Downtown Nutrition offers customers “different ways to have a healthy lifestyle.”
“I feel like a lot of people start a diet, and they don’t commit to it and they don’t stick to it because they get bored. I figured I would offer healthy protein shakes, protein waffles, protein oatmeal—different ways to be healthy and have a healthy meal ... A lot of times, people feel like they can’t get access to a healthy meal because it’s going to take too long, or they don’t want to do it themselves. I feel like us being here gives them the opportunity to have that as an option,” Rosario said.
Rosario said that, of all the items on their menu—which are protein-based and either low-sugar or sugar-free—the tea bombs are her favorite.
“I drink two a day, personally; I can’t start my day without it. I try to get here early in the day just so I can have my tea bomb in peace before I start seeing customers. I feel like it’s a must-have before I start my day. It gives you enough energy to start your day to have that energized vibe. It helps you to focus, mentally, and you don’t get the crashing sensation that other energy drinks give you ... They burn calories, they’re good for your digestive health, they have aloe and they have collagen, which is good for your bones and skin,” Rosario said.
Rosario said that she sees menu expansion in Downtown Nutrition’s future.
“I feel like we’re offering the public different ways to take care of themselves, and I’m trying to offer more. Right now, I just started making protein bars that I make daily myself. I want to offer more options, expand more and have more healthy options for the public,” Rosario said.
One of her favorite aspects of being at Downtown Nutrition, Rosario said, is “making people feel good and feel happy.”
“I will talk to anybody who comes in here; I try to remember their names, and if I don’t, I at least remember something about them, and they know; next time I see them, I’ll talk about it. I try to keep it familiar ... We welcome anyone who comes our way,” Rosario said.
Alicea concurred, noting that happy customers will “bring others, and they’ll constantly keep coming.”
“It’s all word of mouth. I can see in Hammonton that everybody supports small shops, which is good; it’s like everybody is united,” Alicea said.