Oasis Fresh Fruit and More, located at 1450 Main St., has served healthy Mexican treats, blended beverages and intricately carved fruit dishes in Longmont for more than five years. Now the family-run business is expanding with a second location in Longmont and preparing for franchising.
Haydee Caraveo Vasquez’s, owner of Oasis Fresh Fruit and More, goal is to support a healthy lifestyle with fruit-based recipes while sharing her Mexican culture. She began making food and treats to share with friends and family. After experimenting with different recipes and carving techniques, Vasquez realized that she could create a business from her craft.
“In Mexico, she studied with food and beverages and she always liked everything related to restaurants. And one time she made a pineapple for one of her friends and they liked it and that's where she started to kind of play with it,” said Vasquez’s 14-year-old daughter, Haydee Mendivil Caraveo, who helped translate for her mother. She works alongside her older sister and mother.
Two of the first menu items that launched Oasis were large shareable fruit bowls with decorative carvings. The Sandia Locuaz is a halved watermelon filled with other fruits, tamarind candy, chili powder and other toppings. A stuffed pineapple with similar fillings makeup the Pina Locuaz.
Individual fruit cups, smoothies, frappes and ice cream-based treats add more sweet items to the menu. Oasis also offers savory snacks including variations on nachos and the corn dishes Elote Chorreado and Elote en Vaso.
Oasis is proudly run by Vasquez and her daughters, with three unrelated employees. But expansion and franchises could be right around the corner.
The business has been working with Longmont Entrepreneurship for All, or EforAll, a nonprofit organization that provides resources and education to small business owners. Vasquez was accepted into the current business accelerator program for EparaTodos — the EforAll branch for Spanish-speakers that launched last year. The year-long program began in January, providing mentorship for entrepreneurs.
Karen Veraza Uriarte, program manager for EparaTodos, said Vasquez is a part of a cohort of seven women. She added that Oasis was ideal for the business accelerator because of Vasquez’s willingness to adapt and grow.
“We look for people that have a passion for what they do, that are willing to be flexible because a lot of challenges that’s involved with being an entrepreneur is being able to roll with the punches,” Veraza Uriarte said. “And so she had that personality. She's flexible, she takes advice well and she is really passionate about what she does and she wants to grow, which is what we're looking for.”
One of those trials was the COVID-19 pandemic. Early into the pandemic outset, only Vasquez and her daughters were working at the restaurant and experienced lower sales than normal. They kept the business going with to-go orders, but they faced new expenses with cleaning products, gloves, hand sanitizer and other items to meet health and safety requirements.
But, the pandemic sparked inspiration for a new menu for a second Oasis Fruit restaurant. Vasquez saw that there was an increased interest in organic and healthy foods. With help guidance from EparaTodos, she plans to open Oasis Fresh Fruits 2, a second location in Longmont, at an undetermined date this month. It will be at 1118 Francis St. The menu will still feature favorites from the original Oasis on Main Street but focus more on organic smoothies and beverages. Oasis’ customers are from the Hispanic or Latin market, Mendivil Caraveo said, but the second store is trying to cast a larger net and serve clients from other communities.
Vasquez has received requests to open up franchises of Oasis. The EparaTodos accelerator is assisting her in making manuals and programs for those who want to be a franchisee of the business.
Veraza Uriarte said she was a fan of Oasis before Vasquez joined the EparaTodos cohort, and is proud of the growth of business that’s approaching its sixth anniversary in August.