Jason Chhan, a firefighter since 2013, opened a Robeks Fresh Juices and Smoothies location in Alhambra, because he wanted to offer something different than the standard fare of teahouses and cafés in his native San Gabriel Valley.
Growing up in the area, he recalls hanging around his family’s business, The Jelly Donut, in Pomona and working there until his mid-20s. "I started helping out my parents and aunt at their donut shop when I was 9 years old. I had the working trait already instilled in me," said Chhan, who lives in La Puente.
Now he has a business to call his own. After a successful soft opening on Sept. 2, the store’s grand opening will be in October, when pumpkin-themed beverages also become available.
Chhan scouted for the location on Main Street and Garfield Avenue before he reached out to start a Robeks franchise, emphasizing that he would not settle for any other place. He said that most people interested in starting a franchise discuss store locations only after partnering with the company. He chose Alhambra because he developed a fondness for the neighborhood and spent a lot of time with friends in this area during his younger years.
He was glad to hear that his favorite juice and smoothie company agreed to his location proposal.
He directs first time customers to the fan favorite and classic sections, but his personal favorite is the Tropi-Kale, which includes papaya juice, pineaaples, kale, pineapple sherbet and nonfat yogurt. Customers can ask for customizations, such as asking for dairy-free products and substituting different fruits and vegetables in the juices.
Chhan, 33, thinks operations for a smoothie business are more streamlined, which allows him to both work as a firefighter all the way in San Diego and oversee the new Robeks location in Alhambra. He plans to develop a strong team that will take care of the store when he's on duty as a firefighter, in which he receives 24-hour shift assignments at one time.
"Firefighting is not a profession where you pick where you want to work, but you're picked where you are willing to work," Chhan said. He has thought about switching to a fire department closer to Alhambra, but he still has to consider whether he's willing to trade that with a possible promotion if he worked in San Diego enough years.
He encourages people to take advantage of the “buy one, get one free” offer that will expire at the end of September. Although hours may change, the Robeks in Alhambra is currently open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.