Eastern North Carolina Native Shares Plan to Expand, Franchise Plant-Based Restaurant
GREENVILLE, North Carolina — An eastern North Carolina native, restaurateur, yoga instructor, wife, and mother of two is committed to providing healthy, wholesome, and plant-based food options in Pitt County and surrounding areas.
“You have to be your own warrior in this world and fight for what you think is right,” said Jessica Albea, owner of FreshVibes and YogiVibes Yoga Studio. “I want to promote wellness and healthy living.”
FreshVibes is a dairy-free and plant-based restaurant with two locations in Greenville. The menu has everything from salads and smoothies to juices and parfaits. After losing her grandfather to cancer nearly 10 years ago, Albea became passionate about alternative cancer research.
“When I started researching, specifically cancer, I was learning how we can prevent this from impacting more people in our family,” said Albea. “Seeing my grandfather go through chemo treatments and clinical trials, he withered away. It was very sad for us to watch as a family.”
That’s when Albea says she realized how much of a role food plays in our overall quality of life, especially during a cancer journey and disease prevention efforts. She went on to earn a certificate in plant-based nutrition from eCornell and the Center for Nutrition Studies.
“I was on a mission to protect my children as much as possible. It made me realize that while we can’t control everything, we can control what we put in our bodies,” said Albea.
At the time, she and her husband, Travis, were living in Johnston County while he was in law school at Campbell University. As a way to learn more about plant-based lifestyles and restaurants, she started working a part-time job at JuiceVibes in Clayton.
“The plan was always for us to return to Greenville because we wanted our kids to grow up around family,” said Albea. “That’s when I was inspired to open up my own plant-based goodness restaurant because the concept didn’t exist here yet and I didn’t know where I was going to feed my family.”
Albea admits it was scary at first but says she wouldn’t change it for the world. Her first location on Charles Boulevard was established in 2016 as a JuiceVibes location. In 2018, Albea branched out on her own and rebranded as FreshVibes to give her and her team more creative control and ability to expand. Shortly later, Albea opened a second FreshVibes location on Arlington Boulevard.
“I knew that Greenville needed this type of restaurant, but I didn’t realize how ready Greenville was for it until we opened the doors,” said Albea.
There are about 40 employees that work between both FreshVibes restaurant locations and 10 contract yoga teachers at YogiVibes located at the Charles Boulevard location.
“We’re honored that we can help the community because our hearts are here,” said Albea.
Her mission is to provide the community with real food made of the freshest ingredients, to educate the community about the many benefits of living a whole food, plant-based lifestyle, and to support our local farmers and other small businesses in eastern North Carolina.
“When you spend money at FreshVibes, we want you to know that you’re spending money with several local businesses too since we partner with them for our produce and products,” said Albea. “My husband and I are from Greenville and it’s important for us to support other businesses in this area.”
Albea says they’re not in any rush to grow, but she is looking ahead to future expansion plans while creating more jobs and opportunities in eastern North Carolina.
“My heart is passionate about serving those in need and there are a lot of communities that need this type of wellness resource,” said Albea, referring to FreshVibes. “We recently finished franchise documents. So, whether we open another FreshVibes location ourselves or work with a franchise FreshVibes location, we are excited to serve others and spread our mission.”
*This piece was originally published by the Greenville — Eastern North Carolina Alliance website as part of a series during National Business Women’s Week 2020.