After spending the last three years working in Hell, Nelson Rufran now owns a slice of Heaven.
The owner of Ruffrano's Hell's Kitchen Pizzeria in Manitou Springs recently opened Ruffrano's Heavenly Squeeze, a juice and aromatherapy oxygen bar, across the street from the Ruxton Avenue pizza joint.
It's not the 48-year-old entrepreneur's first attempt at a juice bar. When he was 18, Rufran ran his first juice business out of his single-wide trailer in a southeast Colorado Springs trailer park.When he tried to expand, he said, the county health departmentdenied his license, saying he needed a separate building, a commercial kitchen and other items. Rufran closed the business, but kept the business plan.
Three decades later, Rufran reopened the file when the location across from Hell's Kitchen became available. It took him nearly 18 months to bring the business to fruition, and he spent about $30,000 renovating the building. He also spent eight to 10 hours each day helping run Hell's Kitchen.
Rufran was originally going to call his juice bar "Jungle Juice," a reflection of the previous occupant's jungle decor. But his girlfriend put the kibosh on the idea, saying it was "too common, and came up with Heavenly Squeeze, Rufran said, so he "could own a slice of both heaven and hell."
The juice bar offers all-organic drinks,thanks, in part, to Rufran's sister, Angela Reinhard, who helped refine and concoct some of the recipes,the Inclinegizer, the Pikes Peaka Colada and the Mangotou Springs. It took Reinhard about two months to perfect the 15 original fruit smoothies and juice drinks, which come in 8- and 16-ounce sizes for $3.95 and $5.95, respectively.
"They are all original recipes," Rufran said. "They are not from the Internet or a franchise."
Reinhard said managing the juice bar has been an easy transition from her former job. What hasn't been easy is going to work for her brother, or, as Reinhard said: "your younger brother, to boot." While Reinhard manages the store for a part of the profits, she is not a co-owner.
"It was a challenge," she said. "He is used to being the boss, and I am used to being the boss, too, and I was not having him boss me. So we had to come to a compromise."
Rufran credits his sister not only with creating the juice drinks, but with helping make his business profitable. He said his sister figured the proper portions for the bar's drink that allowed profit margins on each.
"Which is hard to do because there is not a lot of margin in juice drinks," Rufran said. "And it is her first time as an entrepreneur."
The oxygen section of the shop runs along the front windows. The oxygen is infused with aromas such as lemon and eucalyptus.
Rufran got the inspiration to include an oxygen bar after overhearing hikers and tourists from Florida, Texas and other flatland states as he was eating ice cream one day along the city's main street. Their constant refrain?
"I could use some oxygen."
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.