Mama Earlene’s Business Proposition


Photos via Pixabay.

by Patrick Redding

Dear Mr. Cheever,

My name is Earlene Ledbetter, and I am writing to you on behalf of my brothers Cephus and Orly. They have an idea for a brand new business they would like to start up, but since they do not have any money and I am not going to lend them any more after not getting paid back from the last time I bailed them out of jail, I figured the least I could do would be to write to you, the head of our local Small Business Association, and see if you might be able to help these young men pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Ha, that’s a joke – it’s like pulling teeth to get these two to wear shoes in summer – but I guess they could pull themselves up by their overall straps just as well, and make something of themselves besides a nuisance.

Let me explain their idea to you. They have recently been in contact with a fellow from California who told them all about juice bars, and they think this is something they could do. It’s true that this fellow was their cellmate during their most recent incarceration, but I do not believe that we should hold that against him. Criminal activity does not mean you are no good at business; in fact, he was in jail for tax evasion, so clearly he is right up there with anyone on Wall Street when it comes to business smarts.

They would like to open a juice bar here in our town of Shady Creek. Cephus wants to call it “Juice Bar” but Orly came up with “Loosey Goose’s Real Good Juices.” They can fight over that later, if they actually get some start-up money. Right now, I am just glad they are interested in doing something that is not illegal, and I hope you might be able to help them get started.

We do not have any juice bars around here, so it would be a unique addition to our little town. And don’t worry, even though it has “bar” in the name, I understand that these are to be non-alcoholic beverages. I assure you that there is no way I would recommend my brothers to run a bar. Like many of our fine neighbors, they do not have good sense when they are around alcohol.

As I am sure you know, “juicing” is an easy way for people to get their fruits and vegetables, but I understand that any number of things can be liquified and made into a healthy juice drink, with a good recipe. I would have preferred that Orly hadn’t stuffed my sliced Sunday dinner ham into a blender to make this point, but the fact that Mama drank it anyway speaks to the tastiness of his concoction, I guess.

They would like to start small at first to see how it goes. They would need a juicer, of course. While anyone can pick up a blender at Wal*Mart for $40 or so, they would probably need a sturdier model that could stand up to constant use from two fellows who do not know the meaning of the word “careful.” I understand some of the fancier models run into the thousands of dollars, but there is a $300 model which I am sure would be just fine for getting them started.

There are a number of empty storefronts around town, and any one of those would be suitable for them. It is certainly not necessary for them to build a place from scratch, and I would do just about anything to keep them away from using power tools! The last time that happened, our house got a doggie door where one was never intended, and it was so bad we had to just build out from it and turn it into a breakfast nook (which I think is just too pretentious for folks like us, but it was better than having a hole in the wall that a black bear could have walked through at any time). Anyway, my point is, they could probably rent one of those empty shops pretty cheaply on a month-to-month basis. The old diner would probably work out just fine. I think the rat invasion that caused them to be closed down back in the ’90s is probably not there anymore, and it has been repainted a time or two since those folks from the EPA came in and found all that lead paint and asbestos in the place.

They would need some supplies, of course, and that would depend a lot on the menu. They have suggested that they could get produce from the farmer’s market that is run on weekends out at the old fairgrounds. I told them that they could grow their own vegetables but it seems that would be too much like work for them, ha ha, and I was kind of sorry I’d brought it up after I remembered that they had gotten in trouble for growing marijuana in buckets on their porch before. They will need to get some “to-go” cups and straws from a restaurant service place, I imagine. I have several dozen old glasses and jars that I told them they can use for serving while they are getting started, but they will need to watch out and not let people just carry them off. Some of those are antiques, and I need my canning jars in the summer.

Here is a sample menu that they have come up with. They have made all of these things here in the kitchen with my blender, and while I cannot say I liked all of them, I will vouch for the ingredients and their ability to make them.

juice menu

1. “Very Berry Slush.” This is a combination of all the different kinds of berries they found in the back of my freezer, which includes strawberries, raspberries, and I don’t know what-all else. It didn’t taste half as bad as any of the rest, and I wouldn’t mind having another one.

2. “Piña Colonic.” It’s supposed to taste like a piña colada but it does not have any alcohol. It has a lot of coconut and all kinds of stuff in it that would be real good if you were constipated. If you’re not, you might want to stay as far away from it as you can get. I was real impressed with their fancy little fruit garnishes stuck on the glass. Cephus was always good with knives.

3. “Gatorita.” Basically, it’s Gatorade and a bunch of other stuff mushed up together and served like a margarita but without alcohol. That’s salt on the rim of the glass but they said you can get it with sugar instead if it ain’t sweet enough for you.

4. “Hamburger Down the Hatch.” Here’s a burger lunch for those that don’t have time to sit down and eat like civilized people. It’s got all the usual hamburger fixin’s – mustard, lettuce, tomato, onions, mayonnaise, etc. – except the bun, all smooshed together and garnished with pickles. Yummy yum yum.

5. “Mac and Cheese Delite.” I did not think anybody could mess up macaroni and cheese but I reckon I was wrong. That is puréed cottage cheese on top, by the way.

6. “Morning Brew.” Here’s one to get you awake and going in the morning. It’s got orange juice, coffee, sweet tea, and some sort of secret ingredient that I don’t think I even want to know about. It might be allergy tablets ground up, or maybe diet pills. I don’t know and I’m not going to ask.

I am sure that they will add to their menu as they see what folks like (or as they find cheap things they can stick in a juicer) but this is what they plan to start with. They say they will be happy to bring some samples for you to try, and would even be willing to cater one of your Small Business Association meetings as a trial if you would rather put the “taste test” off on other people.

I hope that you will give these boys any help that you can. It is true that they have been in jail (more than once), and they did not do well with their plan to restore a car and race it at Bristol a few years ago, but they mean well and they are just plain too old to be coming back home to live with Mama. Now that they are out of jail, I would like to see them do something worthwhile, or at least stay out of trouble. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, as you know. Since they are felons, they have not been able to get jobs, and since they are not really very good at anything useful, it seems only logical that they start their own business and become entrepreneurs.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, Mr. Cheever, and I sure hope your wife does not find out about you and that massage “therapist” while you are deciding how you might be able to help these fine fellows get their new business going.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Earlene Ledbetter

© Copyright 2015 by Patrick Redding

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