On November 1st, 2020, Election Day tensions were palpable. The city braced for an uptick of COVID-19 cases and the first signs of another indoor dining ban loomed on the horizon. Robert Mitchell, however, was cutting the ribbon on his freshly minted cold-pressed juice and smoothie bar.
On the menu: smoothies with names and promises like “Daily Dose of Everything” and “Incredible Hulk.” My own favorites have been the “Triple Immune Defense” for the boost it gives your constitution and the simply-titled “Power Green Juice” for its cleansing power. More recently, Mitchell has also begun to feature soup and oatmeal on the menu.
The newly opened Cup of Love Brooklyn sits snugly on the corner of Johnson Avenue, and is a stone’s throw from the Montrose Avenue L station, and it’s only Mitchell’s latest endeavor. He tells me of the entrepreneurial rebranding while wrangling his active 4-year old son. The ambitious father of two is no novice to multitasking. In addition to his new business, Mitchell is an active mentor for a youth group “MOVES4DAYZ” that aims to help young Black men find role models and work within their communities.
He tells me that the inspiration for “Cup of Love” had dovetailed equally out of the George Floyd protests and the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. The name stems from the grief and emotion felt over the summer, and its focus on holistic wellness came from his concern for the elderly and his own large family. One of eight children, Mitchell says at least one person from his family tree patronizes his business daily. “Renal disease runs in my family,” he says. “In fact, my mother donated a kidney to my aunt some years back. This business is for them as much as it is for the community at large.”
On the corner of Bushwick Avenue, you can usually spot a tall man handing out leaflets and directing foot traffic towards the store. “That’s my best friend of 25 years, Michael Chavis,” Robert explains. “He was a personal trainer pre-COVID, so he came on as my nutritionist when I decided to open.”
Mitchell insists that his journey has been anything but linear. A former basketball star at Seton Hall, Mitchell’s trajectory was cut short three weeks before his graduation. “I was arrested right before the NBA drafts, it was all over the news. That would change the next 12 to 13 years of my life.” Having previously worked in real estate, Robert is now fully transitioning into running Cup of Love.
“The business hasn’t made any money yet, but [I’m] looking forward to post-vaccine New York, we’re excited to build. Right now, the main thing is foot traffic – more people are working from home, meaning we’re reaching fewer people than we normally would,” he says. Experts believe that post-pandemic, one in six workers will work from home. In a city defined by its reliance on hospitality and mobility, this may mean trouble for small businesses like Robert’s. Less inclined to venture out of their homes for lunch breaks, the grab-and-go option may be on the way out.
In addition to Mitchell’s hopes to connect with more of Bushwick/East Williamsburg, he also has aspirations involving partnerships with hospitals and care facilities to offer patients holistic alternatives to fast food and hurried bodega sandwiches.
“I’ve been to public and private-funded hospitals to pitch. I believe that frontline workers and those that they’re caring for should have access to healthy and approachable ingredients.” The dream is that Mitchell could one day operate a franchise out of medical facilities. “That’s why I call it ‘Cup of Love Brooklyn,’ because I hope to franchise it eventually.”
For now, his first outpost is building a steady following and cultivating rapport. “Cup of Love” is open daily from 8 am to 4 pm and closed each Sunday. Follow their Instagram page to stay up to date on their menu. If you’re hunkering down for the time being, they also do delivery via UberEats or ChowNow. You can also support them directly by donating to their Cashapp @cupoflovebrooklyn.
Robert Mitchell is a reminder that we must push forward. Equally resilient and generous, Mitchell and the staff at “Cup of Love Brooklyn” exemplify their namesake in heavy doses. Stop by on one of your walks to the train not only for the delicious juices but for the conversation as well.
Cup of Love Brooklyn
Cold-pressed juices, smoothies and soups.
247 Johnson Avenue, East Williamsburg (off the Montrose Avenue stop on the L train)
Follow Cup of Love: Instagram
Mon-Fri: 8 am – 4 pm
Sat: 10 am – 6 pm
Top picture by Hannah Lane.
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