Darron and Melanie Robinson and their business partners Ayana Swiggett and Alexis McNeil want to create a ‘healthy hangout’ for the community.
By Matt Skoufalos | October 29, 2021
When Darron Robinson and his wife, Melanie, were looking for a commercial storefront to launch their health and nutrition business, they were encouraged to look in Collingswood first.
The couple had spent the past year testing out the market, and they were advised that the best audience for it would be found in the Haddon Avenue corridor.
But time and again, the Robinsons found themselves coming back to West Clinton Avenue in Oaklyn, where the former Phila. American Shuffleboard and Billiard Company storefront had sat dark for years.
“We were just searching for a space to do what we’ve been doing,” Darron Robinson said. “I started scoping out the area and seeing what the community was like. Would they be receptive to what we have to offer?
“Something was drawing me to this Oaklyn crowd,” he said. “We wanted to take on the challenge of making it happen.”
On Friday, they opened the doors of Heartbeat Nutrition, a smoothie bar that Darron Robinson describes as “a healthy hangout” for the neighborhood.
“I want to create a safe space for people,” he said. “There’s a lot going on in today’s world. If you come in here, you’re feeling negative, you leave happy.”
Together with their business partners Ayana Swiggett and Alexis McNeil, the Robinsons are bringing a healthy, quick-service concept to downtown Oaklyn. Centered on Herbalife products, their menu offers nutritional smoothies containing a mix of proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
“You want to eat healthier, but nobody’s got time to meal prep,” Darron Robinson said. “Fast food thrives on people being in a rush. We put everything into a meal replacement shake, but we make it delicious, like you’re having a treat.”
With soy and pea proteins, and upcoming gluten- and dairy-free options, Heartbeat Nutrition smoothies provide a drink that satisfies like a meal, but without the heavy fatigue that can sometimes follow.
The same formulations will soon be available as waffles and pancakes, which Darron Robinson said helps him keep his energy up.
For those who want something lighter, “the shakes are our Batman, our teas are Robin,” Robinson said: sugar-free, with a caffeine boost that doesn’t hit like an energy drink.
“You aren’t tired, and you can be productive and it’s tasty,” he said.
In addition to the beverages, Heartbeat Nutrition also is designed as a base camp from which to launch community events, including open-mic entertainment and fitness programs. Darron Robinson envisions someday shutting down West Clinton Avenue to vehicle traffic to host a group fitness class. Alanna McGlashen, social media specialist and event coordinator for the business, will be the point of contact for programs like these.
“We want to bring some yoga here; give people who want to come down a reason to come out,” he said. “We want to do open mic nights; have someplace where people can show their art, give them a reason to come out, and have something healthy while they’re here.”
Although the couple are first-time business owners, they have enjoyed support from a number of mentors across the country, including Janelle Williams, who traveled from Long Beach, California to help the Robinsons get Heartbeat Nutrition off the ground this weekend.
“A lot of people here have been helping me out a lot,” Darron Robinson said. “[I credit] my amazing team; their vision for things is great.
“I’m honored to be in Oaklyn,” he said. “I’m grateful to be here to take care of everyone.”
Heartbeat Nutrition is located at 200 West Clinton Avenue in Oaklyn. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 609-369-2861.
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