Juiceristas ready to serve

Dulce Hoggard stands with her mother, Ofelia Nicasio, in the new Pendleton business, “Viva La Juice,” she opened with husband Najee. The juicery offers a variety of juices, smoothies, wellness shots and acai bowls. Scott Slade | The Times-Post

PENDLETON — Why did the phlebotomist open a juicery?
It was in her blood.
That was the case for Dulce Hoggard, who co-owns Viva La Juice, a new juice bar in Pendleton, with her husband, Najee.
The 28-year-old Ingalls resident left her job as a phlebotomist, a medical job involved with blood draws, to start the business.
“My mom used to work at a Mexican juicery in Mexico,” said Dulce, a 2012 graduate of Anderson High School.

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Her mother, Ofelia Nicasio, works full-time in the business, which also employs seven others part-time.
“I grew up with her always making juices and smoothies.”
Before leaving the medical setting, she said she decided with her husband, who works full-time for a company that does roadwork and related services, that a change was needed for their family, which includes children ages 7, 4 and 4 months.
“We wanted something new and something that we love to do and something to help the community healthiness,” Dulce said.
At Viva La Juice, which opened in mid-September, there are six main juice options, including Green Goodness, which is made from apple, cucumber, celery, kale and parsley, and Blue Wave, which is made from coconut water, apple, pineapple, lemon, ginger and blue spirulina. Other flavors are: Cleansing Kick, Best Beet, Revitalizer and Berry Boost.
The juices are raw, meaning not pasteurized, Dulce said, and must be consumed within four days of being made.
This is what makes them good for you, she said.
“It’s all living,” she said.
She sells the juices in single-serving containers, but also takes orders for larger juice cleanser regimens, during which “all you do for three days is drink juice and water.”
Juice is not the only thing on the menu at Viva La Juice. There’s a selection of other beverages, including Almond Mylks, Smoothies and Wellness Shots.
Served also are açaí bowls, which are comprised of a base blend of frozen açaí — a berry native to Central and South America — strawberries, banana and coconut milk, with several choices of toppings. One bowl, Island Vibe Açaí, has the base blend with pineapple, banana, walnuts, coconut flakes, raw honey, almond drizzle and granola on top. Choc Nut Açaí has the base with banana, walnuts, cacao nibs, cacao drizzle and peanut drizzle on top.
Avo Toasts and Almost Butter Toasts are other food options. Like the acai bowls, they have fixed bases with options.
The menu, which includes some of her mom’s drink recipes as well as other items professionally formulated with outside consultants, reflects a family philosophy, she said
“We believe in the natural healing of the food and just incorporate it into our lives,” Dulce said.
Dulce said she worked with a company to design the logo, and has received help from not only her mom but also other family members, including her mother-in-law, who owns a hair salon.
The look of the restaurant, with walls painted in bold fuchsia and umber, captures the look she wanted, she said.
“I’ve been to a lot of juice bars,” she said. “I know I wanted these colors.”
To her, their message is “happy and fruitful.”
Christy Keesling of Markleville stopped in for lunch on a recent Friday.
Employee Ellyna Almquist — Dulce’s best friend of 20 years, since first grade, when Dulce moved to Anderson and did not yet speak English — made Keesling’s Choc Nut Acai bowl from scratch.
“I just wanted to try it because this is new,” Keesling said. “I like healthy stuff.”
Dulce said the restaurant is new, in more ways than one.
“We’re the first juicery in Madison County,” she said, noting there’s one in Fishers and 12 in Marion County.
Dulce said she came up with the name of the business, and doesn’t rule out opening other locations eventually.
But the one in Pendleton is it for now.
“I kind of just want to build my brand and get it out there,” she said. “I just want to focus on this for a while, and then we’ll see.”
Viva La Juice is located at 116 N. Pendleton Ave. Its hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
For more details and full menu, visit vivalajuice.com.