Virtue Juice Bar
“We never knew these resources were available prior to COVID. Now, we are so impressed with everything the SBDC offers. That initial phone call opened so many resources for us. We tell other business owners all the time, ‘if you haven’t checked out the SBDC, you really should.’”
Through their work with the Solano-Napa SBDC, Vacaville’s Virtue Juice Bar has navigated the COVID pandemic and built lasting relationships in their community
In the three years since its opening, Vacaville’s Virtue Juice Bar has become its own community.
The business is family-owned and they in turn have created an extended family centered around their fresh, organic juice.
Their goal is to help people in Solano County who desire or require healthier eating options. The family created all their own juice recipes and decided to only use organic produce for their juice.
When the store opened in April of 2019, they were thrilled to offer such a wide range of organic, gluten-free options. All the juices are cold-pressed and made to order. Virtue was the first juice bar in the country to offer cold pressed juice in this fashion, and it can be customized to a customer’s preferences. Whether a customer is interested in a juice, a smoothie, or a juice cleanse, there are options for them at Virtue Juice Bar. Then, as so many other businesses experienced, March 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic upended everything the business had worked on for over a year.
Virtue Juice Bar was considered an essential business and was able to remain open throughout the pandemic, although with limited hours.
When the pandemic shut everything down, their landlord encouraged them to contact the Solano-Napa SBDC to learn more about the Paycheck Protection Program.
“It was really the SBDC that made it clear for us,” co-owner Tom said, crediting their advisor at the time, Onna Young. “She helped us to kickstart the process.”
They were referred to the NorCal SBDC Restaurant Program, and advisors guided them as they applied for and were approved for both a Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) and an Economic Impact Disaster Loan (EIDL). They were able to keep all 14 of their employees on board, which was very important to them because most were in their late teens and early twenties.
Further into 2020 and then 2021, Virtue received a $15,000 California COVID-19 Relief Grant as well as a $6,000 Rebuild Solano’s Small Businesses Grant, a program administered by the Solano-Napa SBDC and the Workforce Development Board of Solano County.
The team at Virtue often looks back on those first conversations with Restaurant Program advisors, focused on cost containment, product pricing, evaluating profitability amid the pandemic and marketing.
It was through the SBDC that Virtue has been able to build connections with other area businesses.
They were invited by Restaurant Program advisors to speak with a cohort of restaurant owners. Through those meetings, they connected with a cottage baker that now supplies gluten free banana bread to Virtue, and another business owner who supplies spices and seasonings for Virtue’s specialty toasts. They have also partnered with area farmers for organic seasonal produce.
It is important to Virtue to continue to partner and give back to the community. During the pandemic, they partnered with the Solano Family First Responders nonprofit to prepare hundreds of bottles of juice for local first responders, including nurses at Kaiser.
“People come in and they know we are trying to do a right thing here,” Tom said. “It’s rewarding to be able to provide beverages that are good for people, good for their bodies.”