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Black-Owned Businesses in Greater Rochester: B+Healthy Fresh Food Market

Q&A with Negus El Bey, volunteer at B+Healthy Fresh Food Market

February 2021

Negus El Bey is a volunteer at B+Healthy Fresh Food Market, located at 442 Genesee Street in Rochester. In business since the summer of 2018, B+Healthy provides healthful goods—like produce, freshly prepared vegan meals, a juice and smoothie bar, and health and wellness products—to inner-city communities that don’t have easy access to such items. For more information, go to

What inspired the owners to start up a business in Rochester and how did they get started?

What inspired the owners to start up a business in Rochester was the need for affordable and healthy food in the city “food deserts,” where there’s not a lot of accessible fresh produce, juices, healthy smoothies, or alkaline water. B+Healthy is structured as a nonprofit charitable organization to provide healthy food to people who can’t really afford or get access to places like Wegmans and Walmart.

Please elaborate on your passion and mission.

Our passion is wanting to see people healthy, especially in low-income communities. What really drives us to do so is the lack of affordable, healthy, fresh food in these communities. We tend to see that there is a correlation between violence and what people eat, so we just want to make a change in that way. So that when they eat good, healthy food, they feel better and make better decisions. We want to make that a reality for more people.

Do you have mentors or sources of guidance that have helped along the way?

Yes. We've had many mentors along the way, as it relates to health and business. The Honduran herbalist Dr. Sebi, who specializes in holistic health and has treated many people of different ailments and different diseases. And general people in our community who practice health—like Lucky Lee Davis, Kecia Brumfield—try to promote healthier regimens as we do.

What does it mean to you to be a Black business owner or entrepreneur?

To me, it means that we need more of them on every corner, in every city, because Black businesses are underfunded and they’re really not promoted in the media like that. It means that we’ve got to work harder sometimes, but that’s OK. We just need more.

What key impacts have you or your business made so far?

The key impact we’ve made so far is helping people achieve healthy weight goals. We’ve helped numerous people lose weight. We’ve also helped people save money by not eating out all the time, eating bad foods, and things of that nature. Those are the biggest impacts—people saving money to build wealth and getting healthier, as far as losing weight and detoxing their bodies.

“Those are the biggest impacts—people saving money to build wealth and getting healthier.”

There are more than just food deserts in Rochester and in low-income communities across the country. Beyond juices and smoothies, different types of health-related business, like fitness centers and meditation centers, are coming up in our community. Along with restaurants, like the Jamaican spots. It’s good to try to provide some type of help in food deserts. The Fresh Food Market has been here since July 23, 2018, and it’s grown in popularity mostly by word of mouth and social media. They’ve been the main sources of our promotion and marketing. So now we’re expanding. We have a second location opening up on Dewey Avenue pretty soon. We’re really excited about it.

Describe one situation that left a particular impression on you.

Definitely, for one, when a woman came in and said that she had lost 25 pounds from making healthier choices. Another time a woman came in and said, “I’m with my son. He wants to get a smoothie.” It’s different when a child wants to take the initiative to be healthy. So I thought that was pretty cool because coming from where we come from, kids don’t really like healthy stuff. They like candy and snacks. So to hear a child say, “Mom, can we go to B+Healthy?” That's amazing.

What are some of the more popular items for your customers?

Our fruit smoothies and chili are most popular. We also have herbal remedies that help detox and heal the body, toothpaste that doesn’t contain fluoride, and all-natural soaps, shampoos, and deodorants that are good for the skin.

We definitely explain the need for herbs to help people with certain ailments that they have. We’re not a medical institution, and we don’t claim to cure or heal any diseases, but we try to keep people on the up and up about different herbs that can do certain things for their bodies.

What hurdles have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Sometimes the traffic isn’t how we’d like it to be, but we just keep pushing. And when we’ve had to cut hours, we keep pushing, pumping out good products and, most importantly, our good customer service—smiling, waving, greeting customers, and keeping a positive, high-vibrational energy in the atmosphere so that the people will feel good when they’re here.

The pandemic has affected us. And sometimes the weather. But we’ve been blessed to still be able to make it through all of that and still be here.

What learnings have you taken away from your experience?

Always greet people, always be nice to people, also always stick through no matter if the going gets tough and it gets real hard. Always stick through and put time in. Time is one of the most important things because you can’t get it back and you can’t rewind it. All you can do is move forward with it and make the best of it. Probably the most important thing I’ll say is the time aspect of running a business is very, very important.

What do you hope to achieve next?

We want to open up multiple locations in the city of Rochester, from the East Side to the North Side. Any type of impoverished neighborhood, we definitely want to open in those places first because those people are the ones who need it the most. And just expand globally after that.

“Creativity is the most important factor when it comes to starting anything. Not just a business, but anything in life.”

What advice can you give to other business owners, particularly Black people looking to start their own business?

Be creative. Don’t try to copy the same business ideas that everybody else has. Do something really creative. I was online looking at a brother who had an 18-wheeler and he put a bowling alley inside of it. And he went everywhere like, “Hey, who wants to bowl and stuff?” Because during the pandemic, all the bowling alleys were shut down. So I think it’s just about being really creative. Elon Musk is the richest person in the world right now because of his creativity. Creativity is the most important factor when it comes to starting anything. Not just a business, but anything in life.