Downtown’s Red River District, the pretty, tree-lined area of shops under the Texas Street Bridge across from Bally’s Casino, is shady, welcoming, and quiet. Too quiet. The quiet is mostly because the district’s three largest retail/restaurant spaces are empty, waiting for tenants to bite, funding to be acquired and leases to be approved. This is not a concern to new business owner Beatrice Blackmon.
She and fiancé Curtis Lee, Jr. have just opened Fusion Nutrition, a small shop in Suite 200, adjacent to Cohab in the District. The goal is for this to be their ‘test kitchen’, the first of hopefully several stores throughout the region. Bea and Curtis have talked for some time about opening a nutrition club; one structured better than all the others. Bea has no doubt that she can win converts.
Her plan is to provide things others do not, including regularly-changing options of drink flavors, great service, creative products, and consistency. “Consistency is key,” she says, flatly. “If you say you are going to be open a certain time and day, you do it. We are GOING to be open Monday-Friday, 7 am- 2 pm.” They also plan to open on Saturdays during the Shreveport Farmers’ Market and during other special events. One other unique offering will be allowing customers to prepare their own teas. “Wash your hands and get back there,” she says. “We will guide you through your perfect drink, one that will be all your own.”
Curtis, whose bill-paying job is Inventory Control at Calumet Specialty Products, says they both understand it might take a year to ‘break in’, to set their claim in the Red River District and let people know they are there and they are prepared. Though he has never before owned a business, Curtis did work in a nutrition center and knows the products well. When I ask about the energy (caffeine) levels of the different teas, he shares all the details- “Our regular tea, Level 1, is roughly 85mg of caffeine, about one cup of coffee. Level 2 is 160mg, roughly 2 cups of coffee, Level 3 is 200mg, Level 4 is 275mg. I’ve had people say, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of caffeine…but it just all depends on how many cups of coffee you are already drinking every day. Some folks drink it all day. For them, the caffeine won’t have the same effect.” On a day I visited, I needed an afternoon boost and chose a Level 2. It did the trick, keeping me humming the rest of the day.
Other unique products include shakes that include Special Reserve Coffee Roasters unique line of coffees. “This is a coffee town,” Curtis says. “We can add coffee to any shake.” Current shake flavors include Pistachio, Screaming Bean, Chai Latte, Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry Cheesecake, all low in sugar and high in protein.
A long-time member of Cohab, an entrepreneurial space located in the District, Bea understands the benefit of being on the ground floor of development. She is also gung-ho on downtown, and on urban life in general. She comes from a background of successful restaurants and coffee shops, first in California, and later, when her family moved, in Louisiana.
“Mom (her mother, Sandra Lanier) taught me all I need to know (about restaurants and life),” Bea tells me. “What she didn’t, my grandparents did. If I had to, I could wring a chicken’s neck and pluck it.” She laughs at having a skill she hopes to never have to use.
Her goal now is to get Fusion Nutrition up and running. “We’re both fire signs,” she laughs. “Fire fuses everything, hence the business name.”
If you call ahead to 318-507-8858, Alexis, Bea or Curtis will make up your order and have it waiting for you. They will also deliver to downtown. Bea promises more is coming- sandwiches and salads for quick lunch options, tasty and nutritious protein breads, and a calm and quiet place to sit and enjoy your tea or shake while conducting a little business.
For Bea and Curtis, Suite 200 is just the beginning of a long and wonderful ride.
Fusion Nutrition is open Monday-Friday, 7am-2pm at Suite 200, Red River District. Call them at 318-507-8858.