By Rhea Mahbubani
12:08 PM PST, February 13, 2014
Chase Bray was stumped.
On the verge of launching his own business, the Newport Beach resident had a business plan formulated, investors lined up and a location in mind.
What was missing was a name.
One day, while working as a valet at the Montage Laguna Beach, he spent his lunch break flipping through a Latin dictionary. And there he saw the words "porro" and "vita," which together mean "long life."
"I'm basically trying to extend people's lives, be it a cancer patient or someone who is just trying to provide his body with healthier options and more nutrients," Bray said of his year-old venture, PorroVita, which offers healthy juices, acai bowls and smoothies.
The store's ambience also encourages art and relaxation.
Stepping into the airy and sun-dappled store on Newport Boulevard, it's easy to tune out the sound of cars thundering by. PorroVita, which resembles an artfully decorated shack with exposed walnut wood, is an oasis of sorts where people can peruse maritime sketches, paintings and photographs that dot the walls and take a seat at a community table or on an armchair.
While the business focuses on cleansing the body of impurities, it also sells caps and T-shirts that bear the company logo, as well as surfboards.
Inspiration struck Bray during a full-body cleanse at San Diego-based Optimum Health Institute in 2011. There, he met people afflicted with type 2 diabetes and other illnesses who had adopted a holistic and natural approach to healing, and learned about juices and their effects on the human body.
Returning home, he decided to create a unique brand that could offer a healthy environment in which to understand the advantages of — and consume — fresh fruits and vegetables. He was excited to provide residents an alternative to the area's plethora of bars.
PorroVita debuted in December 2012, and soon after, Bray hired seven employees to work alongside him. The store is busiest on weekday mornings, he finds, with customers making a quick stop on their way to work. Alternately, foot traffic is heaviest on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, as locals and tourists stop by for a taste.
Bray, who is on the lookout for additional spots for more stores, created the menu in his home kitchen by "messing around" with different ingredients, he said. He then enlisted the help of a nutritionist.
Today, almost 50% of his client base consists of repeat customers. Juices like "Luv Ur Liver" and "Green e-Lemonator" are top-sellers, according to Bray, while "Green Room" and "Hawaiian Sunset" are his most popular smoothies.
"We are not a fast-food business, so your order is not going to be placed in front of you in seconds," he said. "We put time, love and care into our product. It gives our guests the chance to relax for a minute and take in the art and vibe we are offering."
Bray, 27, finds that although he works and worries even on his so-called days off, he wouldn't trade being his own boss for the world.
PorroVita, which houses work by local artists and live art demonstrations, is also known for its cleanse, which can be done in a single day or extended to an entire week. Bray suggests giving the service, which involves the consumption of six 16-ounce juice bottles over each 24-hour period, at least three to five days for maximum effect. Clients are encouraged not to consume anything else during this time other than water.
The cleanse, which allows a person to take in nearly 20 pounds of vegetables a day in beverage form to detoxify the body, is increasing in popularity, Bray remarked.
"It would be quite a task to [consume] as many green leafy vegetables as we put in a glass," he said, adding that 24 ounces of juice can contain as much as half a bag of spinach. (PorroVita plows its way through well over 100 pounds of fruits and vegetables a day.) What's more, each item is completely natural and devoid of ice, preservatives, powder or sweeteners, Bray said.
These options make PorroVita a no-brainer for Spencer Pirdy, a 27-year-old Newport Beach resident who connected with Bray a few years ago over their shared love of surfing.
Since PorroVita opened its doors, Pirdy, who works one block away, has made it a point to start his day with a 16-ounce "Green e-Lemonator" with a shot of ginger. Pirdy sees the work of Bray and his team as another means of staying healthy, in addition to proper exercise, diet and sleep.
"PorroVita is another way for me to conveniently contribute to my health and well-being, and I think everyone should give it a try," he said. "I think the whole setup of the building, combined with the art aspect that's present and the high quality of healthy drinks, is a huge bonus to the Newport Beach community."
If You Go
Where: 3000 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach
When: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays