ABOUT HLS JUICEBAR AND GRILL
On January 19, 2009, Emeka Onugha found himself asking a difficult question: “Is it time to let it go?” The “it” was Health, Love & Soul Juice Bar & Grill (or “HLS” as customers like to call it). Unforeseen building issues caused Emeka to shut down HLS for a second time. He shared his resignation with his brother, Arinze Onugha, whose words were, “I believe in you and I believe in HLS. You’ve got to keep going, bro.” Arinze put his money where his mouth was, agreed to partner up with Emeka, and used income from his day job to finance the next HLS. Despite economic indicators and school loans suggesting that thinking small was most fiscally sound, the brothers felt HLS deserved a proper home for its customers. The budget was modest, but with creativity they opened HLS (for a
third time) in Maplewood, NJ, transitioning the business from café to
The community’s reception of HLS was humbling. Maplewood Mayor, Victor Deluca, gave encouraging words. Representatives from South Orange Patch, Maplewood Patch, and the New York Times Maplewood Blog reached out to Emeka and Arinze and covered the opening of the restaurant on their websites. The not-for-profit Springfield Avenue Partnership (SAP), aiming to raise the spirit of local residents by bringing innovative businesses to Maplewood, offered priceless assistance. HLS also received “Top Dog honors” from The Star Ledger’s “Munchmobile.”
HLS is tailored fit to today’s times where many are conscious of what they eat and conservative about how much they spend. It is a space where mother groups meet weekly and friends meet nightly. A friendly face behind the counter greets a regular by name and knows her order by heart. This is the HLS experience that Emeka and Arinze wish to share with the world.