Written by The Business Journal Staff
There’s a new king in town.
Clovis resident Wes Burgess, co-owner of We Be Sober ride service, has started a new venture with Junk King, a “green” junk removal company servicing the greater Fresno area.
Based out of the San Francisco Bay area, Junk King’s founders have discovered ways to recycle, reuse and repurpose 60 percent of the junk picked up in and around the city, Burgess said. He added that he knows one of the founders personally, and said he was compelled to start a franchise in the Valley because of the need he sees for junk removal in Fresno and rural areas.
“San Francisco has always been on the cutting edge of recycling and being eco-friendly, but there is a great need for this in Fresno also,” Burgess said. “Agriculture in the Valley is No. 1. We’re the largest producer in the world. Some abuse this by dumping their trash out in the rural areas, leaving farmers to clean up their mess. I plan to team up with agriculture associations to help them clean up these rural areas in addition to just cleaning up the city.”
Cleaning up is just step one for the new king of junk. After loading up his truck, Burgess takes the junk back to a large warehouse where materials are sorted to determine what can be recycled. Items like furniture that can be cleaned and repaired will be donated to the Salvation Army or AMVETS, Burgess said.
“The focus of Junk King is to recycle, reuse and repurpose whatever we can and donate items to extend their life,” Burgess said. “Old furniture gets dumped but there are people in need who would love to have it. One person’s junk can be someone else’s gold.”
Helping those in need is one reason Burgess said he is passionate about Junk King. While he has worn many hats, working in telecommunications, construction and the tree service industries, Burgess said helping people through We Be Sober, and now through Junk King, has been the highlight of his career.
“I like to help the community and those in need,” Burgess said.
Those in need of Junk King’s cleanup services can call 888-JUNK or schedule a pick-up time online at junk-king.com.
As Rio as it gets: Couple brings acai bowls to Fresno
Rio Acai Bowls, a new café that just opened its doors on July 1, seeks to fill the health-food void for those who work and reside in Fresno’s downtown.
Located on Fulton Street where the old Iron Bird Café used to be, Rio Acai Bowls main menu item is the acai bowl, which consists of acai berry sorbet topped with granola, bananas, strawberries and other optional toppings. Acai bowls have no added sugar or preservatives and the health benefits come from the antioxidants found in the acai berry, which is considered a superfood.
Rio Acai Bowls also offers smoothies and poke bowls — bowls of rice topped with Ahi tuna, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds and various spices and sauces. Coffee from Lanna and baked goods from Guiltless Pastries are also sold at Rio.
Sophia Cummings, who co-owns the café with her husband Justin, said they started Rio Acai Bowls in Bakersfield after falling in love with acai while participating in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments in the Bay Area and Southern California.
“We would go to NorCal and SoCal and have these bowls that no one in Central California or the San Joaquin Valley offered, and we thought they were amazing,” Cummings said. “Win, lose or draw, we would always leave a tournament with three or four acai bowls for the weekend.”
When Justin suffered a back injury and could no longer do his day job, the couple decided to become entrepreneurs and bring the acai bowls they loved to the Valley. At first, Justin spearheaded the venture while Sophia continued her career as a teacher, but when the acai bowls took off in Bakersfield, Sophia left her job to join Justin at the first Rio Acai Bowls storefront in Bakersfield’s downtown.
With six kids to support at the time—now seven—Cummings said the transition made her nervous. Thankfully, she said, the citizens of Bakersfield fell in love with the bowls just like she did and the business thrived.
The success in Bakersfield made the Cummings wonder whether the acai bowls would also be a hit in Fresno. After some research, the couple settled on the Iron Bird Lofts location—a space that has been vacant for three years.
Cummings admits choosing the Downtown Fresno location was risky, but she believes the rewards of downtown are worth it.
“We believe in downtown,” Cummings said. “We saw the fruits of our labor in downtown Bakersfield so when we came here we wanted to be downtown. We had the naysayers and specifically one friend who told us not to go to Downtown Fresno because it is where businesses go to die. It’s a scary thought, but rather than scare us off, it did the contrary; it gave us a push.
Just a few weeks in, Cummings said the Fresno community has been welcoming and already she is recognizing the faces of Rio’s regulars. While the Cummings came to Fresno blind, not knowing anyone in the area, she said they have quickly come to love the city and the support of its citizens. Through word-of-mouth and social media alone, she said Rio Acai Bowls has enjoyed a steady stream of customers during the lunch and dinner rush.
Cummings said the goal is for the business to grow and also become a part of the community. For example, Cummings said she would like to see local art featured on the café walls and on the tables as centerpieces.
“We want the community to be a part of Rio as it grows and expands, and we left these walls blank with purpose,” Cummings said.