SHAKIN’ IT UP — Brockton couple launches city’s first healthy shake and tea bar

Francois and Iraimi Diatta launched Empower Nutrition, a healthy shake and tea bar, at 828 Crescent St. in late October. Once they get permission from the city to put in tables and chairs, they hope to offer healthy food offerings like protein waffles and launch community events like “paint and shake” nights.

BROCKTON — With their new nutritional shake and tea bar, Francois and Iraimi Diatta hope to give the community a space to gather while boosting customers’ health and wellness.

“Brockton has given us a lot, so we also see this as a way of giving back to the community,” said Iraimi Diatta, 30. “We’re not just pouring shakes, we’re pouring love into people’s lives and seeing them smiling and leaving happy is our number one objective. We want people to feel good about Brockton and about themselves.”

The couple, who live down the street from the 828 Crescent St. business, officially launched Empower Nutrition on Oct. 26. The shop is open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

How it works is that customers first choose a shot of aloe to promote healthy digestion, soothe the stomach and support nutrient absorption, Iraimi explained. The aloe is then mixed with a tea, which contains 85mg of natural caffeine to boost energy and boost metabolism, she said. The tea is then followed by a shake, which serves as a full meal replacement by providing 24 grams of protein and 21 vitamins and minerals.

“And without toppings, all the shakes are 190 calories, which is amazing,” she said.

The shop was standing room only, but it was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals on Nov. 13 for a permit to set up a few tables and chairs in the space. Even without the tables and chairs, customers had been coming in. Some of the popular shake flavors so far have been Peanut Butter Cup, Strawberry Orange Banana, Strawberry Cheesecake, Pistachio Dream and Orange Pina Colada, they said.

“This is like a big hug for Brockton because Brockton needs something like this, a positive space,” Iraimi said. “Although we don’t have chairs, you’ll be surprised. People will come and they’ll stay for 35-40 minutes – just a place to come down, have a healthy drink, get energized and go to work or go home at the end of a long day.”

A lot of orders are custom-made based on customers’ requests, which Iraimi said they then add to the menu. They’ve also received help from customers to test tea samples to build their offerings.

“We want to make people part of the menu as well,” she said.

They’re also looking to offer food products such as protein waffles and acai bowls, Iraimi said, now that they have the go-ahead for tables and chairs for customers to sit down.

Iraimi said that she and Francois, 31, have been online wellness coaches for about five years and they would frequent nutrition clubs around the area. They decided to open Empower Nutrition in Brockton after one of the club owners suggested they open their own location, since Brockton didn’t have any shake and tea bars.

“We just got inspired and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it! It’ll be so fun!’” Iraimi said. ”…We knew it was something that people wanted.”

It took them about two years to find a location, they said, because they were determined to open in Brockton. Iraimi has been a long-time city resident after she first moved to the city around age 13, she said. Not too long after they moved to Brockton, her family experienced homelessness and lived in a Super 8 Motel, she said, but received help from local organizations.

That help, and a love for the city, inspired her to want to stay in Brockton and do her part to help others in the community, she said. Having previously worked with Brockton students before taking on the business full-time, she said she hopes to encourage the younger generation to stick around.

“Being at the high school, kids will say, ‘I’m not going to stay in Brockton,’ but if you leave, who is going to bring something positive to Brockton?” she said. “Who’s going to make it better? … I hope this inspires young people that they can bring a positive change to Brockton and bring some positive light, that they don’t have to wait for others to do it, that they can actually go ahead and do it themselves.”

They’ve been making introductions by dropping off tea samples at area schools and businesses, Iraimi said. And through a $1 off discount they’re offering customers for checking in to the business via Facebook or Instagram, word has spread through social media as well, Francois said.

Now that the Diattas have approval for chairs and tables, the Diattas have plans to host events to make the shop a community gathering spot. Ideas so far include a “paint and shake night” where customers can drink their shakes or teas while relaxing and painting, which Iraimi said she is most excited about, as well as hosting moms groups, “shake and shop” nights featuring local vendors and building a small stage for open mic nights that Francois is most looking forward to.

“We really want to make this a friendly environment, so they come here and it’s all about positivity,” Francois said.

“We can really build relationships with people, and people can stay and enjoy their healthy meal,” Iraimi added.


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