HAVANA, 11. aug. To test the entire La Juguera offer of 3rd and 6th,
in Havana Vedado, you have to go for two months in a row, every day except Sunday, and order two types of juices. There are 125 fruit juices, vegetables, fruit combinations, and fruit and vegetable combinations.
I used to say that La Juguera de 3ra y 6 offered one of the best value for money in the capital until a friend told me very seriously: “It’s not one of the best, it’s the best in all of Havana.”
Juices are prepared with fresh fruits and vegetables purchased daily. Early in the morning the production of the primary juices (fruit pump, guava, orange, etc.) begins, to open at 9:00 AM with a stock that is replenished as it ends.
None of the juices have been prepared for more than three hours when you order it. The combinations are prepared at the time requested by the client. You can sweeten with sugar or honey. Or just not sweeten.
There is nothing similar in state establishments or in private cafes or for tourism, where such a juice can cost between one and three CUC.
In La Juguera you can try for between three and 15 Cuban pesos. The most expensive are the combinations with strawberry, whose availability depends on the season and the price at the moment.
How can such a business be maintained for six years, in a country where fruits are cyclically scarce and expensive at times?
Alberto Puig Santiesteban, 39, graduated in Law and owner of La Juguera, explains that this price-quality relationship “sometimes is not directly adjusted to the expenses and the price of the products, but fundamentally to respect for the customer.”
“Our strategy is to have a diversity of products. It is possible that the cost of some is higher and generates a loss, that there is no utility. But the product maintains its stable price, with the objective that the customer can enjoy it and not lose confidence in our premises, ”he says.
“The loss is compensated with the utility that can be taken from another product. Or when the prices of these inputs stabilize and the usual profit is generated again. Our utility is minimal, depending on demand. The more demand we have, the more utility. ”
Alberto confesses that some days, after guaranteeing the salary of his workers (eight divided into two brigades) and the payment of taxes and electricity, he does not make a profit, he must adjust his personal expenses. So and everything considers your business successful.
“For me, success is not defined from a commercial point of view, but in customer satisfaction,” he says.
He assures that it is not enriched with La Juguera nor is it his intention. Even when there are days when there is no gain, in 3rd and 6, pregnant women, children under three years of age, very elderly or disabled people are not charged, or who, despite these economic prices, cannot afford a juice. Alberto does not consider it an expense, but a moral and social duty.
“When we see people who count money and look for the cheapest juice, it is indicated that they are not charged. Of course, there are people who do it in good faith and others do not. That is why we must have a critical eye, ”he says.
Several of the combinations offered in 3rd and 6 were created there, following the principles of fruit therapy and fruit growing, which Alberto has studied for many years. For example, the house juice, which is coconut lemonade with good herb, and the B100.
“More than a juice, B100 is a natural nutritional and dietary supplement. It is made with spinach, parsley, celery, ginger, carrot, beet, basil, lemon, banana, and orange. The objective is to satisfy all the needs of vitamins and minerals of the clients in a single glass. We don’t want La Juguera to be just a place to quench thirst or enjoy a different flavor, the idea is to help prevent diseases or to be palliative in the face of a pathology. ”
Alberto offers recommendations for hypertension, stomach ulcer and problems fixing iron.
“For ulcers and gastritis, we recommend melon juice with fruit pump. For hypertension, citrus. In fact, I recommend an ounce and a half or two of lemon juice daily on an empty stomach. Citrus fruits should be consumed before 12 PM because later they can cause gastric problems.
For iron, parsley and beets are widely used. The B100 is ideal for setting iron levels and increasing those of red blood cells. We also recommend it for pregnant women. ”
One of the greatest difficulties in starting a private business in Cuba is an investment. Alberto started with a minimum of funds. “In 2013, I was the buyer, the maker, and the clerk, with 15 types of juices. I slept for about two hours a day. ”
“In six years I have had maybe 15 days of vacation. With the increase in income, I was able to hire a worker, expand the processing capacity and improve the conditions of the premises ”.
Today it has small tables to consume standing up, and with benches for which elderly or disabled and pregnant people have priority. In six years he has learned to repair the blenders that break and this saves him money. Its greatest difficulty has been the workforce.
“If there are failures, the customer will not appreciate the fact that the same person is there, but that there is a concern and the person is changed to maintain the quality standard.”
It prides itself in the healthy environment of La Juguera, where smoking is not allowed, nor alcohol, nor speaking loudly. But he is not satisfied. His further plan is to ensure business stability and improve conditions for customers.