Serendipity Nutrition is an appropriate name for a new shakes and drinks shop at 274 25th St. Shamra Ward of Pleasant View and daughter Tabi Ward of Farr West feel it was “serendipity” — a chance stroke of fortune — that got them into their business.
Last year, the two of them lost their jobs when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the family’s audio-visual business, where they had worked for 22 years.
“All of a sudden, there weren’t any events, and we had no income coming in,” Shamra Ward said. “We had to quickly figure out a pivot to support ourselves.”
Tabi Ward’s sister-in-law has a similar shakes/drinks bar in Layton called Creating the Habit.
“We fell in love with it; it was so much fun,” Shamra Ward said. “When we realized that events weren’t coming back soon, we decided to do something like that.”
Last October, they found an ad listing the space, which most recently housed A Good Life Café. The building’s colorful history includes a stint as a brothel on the second floor, where madam Dora Belle Topham operated “Nicely Furnished Rooms” from 1906-1912.
In just 33 days, the Wards got their shop up and running, opening Thanksgiving week.
Instead of relying on fresh fruit or real juice, the shakes and drinks are created mainly from powdered protein, flavorings and nutritional supplements, “so there’s no waste,” Shamra Ward said. There are several different drinks, mainly shakes, “teas” and protein-enriched iced coffee.
The shakes are thick and creamy, with decadent-sounding flavors like “Butterfinger,” “Banana Cream Pie,” “Brownie Cheesecake,” “Peanut Butter Oreo” or “Orange Creamsicle.” But they are higher in protein and lower in fat, calories and carbs than fast-food or malt shop shakes. They’re sweetened with stevia, a plant-based sugar substitute, and include a choice of nutritional “booster” such as collagen, probiotics, fiber or nitric oxide.
A 16-ounce cup ($8) has 200 calories, 24 grams of protein, 20 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fat. A 24-ounce shake ($11) has 36 grams of protein and 300 calories.
In comparison, a 16-ounce Wendy’s Frosty has 393 calories, 56 grams of carbs, 9 grams of fat and 10 grams of protein. A 16-ounce plain vanilla Dairy Queen shake has 520 calories, 19 grams of fat, 73 grams of carbs and 13 grams of protein.
“We mix and match the flavors and name them what they taste like, so we are a healthy option,” Shamra Ward said. So the Butterfinger shake has a buttery-toffee flavor, but no real Butterfinger candy in it.
They’re almost like a “real” milkshake, but with more of a “healthy” taste. The Wards refer to them as a “meal replacement.” For more decadence, you can get a “deluxe” shake ($11) with “cookie dough.” It’s actually flavored protein powder thickened to a doughy consistency.
The “teas” ($5-$7) are more like flavored soft drinks but without sugar or carbonation. They also contain at least one nutritional “booster.”
“We want a solution for something like Fiiz or Swig, but healthy,” Shamra Ward said. “These are sweetened with stevia, so there’s no sugar crash at the end.”
Some are “energy” drinks, containing caffeine, guarana, ginseng and L-Taurine, plus vitamin C and B vitamins. The Mega Teas pack a walloping 160 milligrams of caffeine. (In comparison, an 8-ounce cup of coffee has around 95 milligrams of caffeine; a 24-ounce mug of Diet Coke has 92 mg of caffeine.)
Many of their ingredients come from the Herbalife Nutrition company. Shamra Ward said she has personally had good health results with the products, and added that ingredients from other companies are used as well.
As with any nutritional supplements, consumers may want to research or consult their doctors about health benefits or risks.
The “teas” come in a huge variety of flavors, and that’s where the fun comes in.
“We’re like Harry Potter, we get to create drink potions,” Tabi Ward said. “We’re always making up new ones.”
One top-seller is called “Ms. Chanandler” — from a joke on the “Friends” TV series. It contains orange, coconut, pineapple and strawberry flavors, with a collagen booster.
“Tie Dye Vibes” is a colorful mashup of orange, green apple, blue candy, fruit punch and collagen booster.
The “Blue Raspberry Colada” contains the flavors of tropical fruit, blue raspberry and piña colada.
The purple “Waldo the Wildcat” is grape lemonade with a nitric oxide booster.
One of the “best-kept secret” drinks is “O-Town,” a mix of cherry, grape, peach, lemonade and probiotics.
The colors and flavorings are added separately for visual effect but should be mixed together to get the full flavor of the drink. The Wards offer this tip: With the lid and straw on, gently blow through the straw so the liquid bubbles and mixes everything together.
So far, Serendipity is mostly a take-out shop. There are window nooks, a sofa and a couple of easy chairs to wait for your order but no booths where patrons can leisurely sip and chat. When COVID restrictions ease up, the Wards may install bar tables along the walls.
“We like the open space,” said Shamra Ward, who also uses the open floor to teach DanceFit (a modified Zumba) class on Saturday mornings before the shop opens.
Customers can call or text ahead with drink orders. Although 25th Street parking can get congested, Shamra Ward noted there’s free parking in the back of the building, and people can enter the back door to pick up their drink, or have it delivered curbside.
The store is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sundays. Running it has been a major change from their previous business, Shamra Ward said.
“Before, I was always stuck behind a camera,” she said. “Now I get to be out conversing with people. We call this our happy place.”