BUFFALO, N.Y. — "I used to travel a lot for work and I kind of neglected my health for a long time," Mario Copeland said behind the bar of the smoothie shop he co-owns in Kenmore.
Mario said he gained more than 50 pounds and ate fast food every day. Until he started making changes in 2020, right before he was laid off from that job as a consultant during the pandemic.
"I joined a gym, jumped and worked on my nutrition and down 52 pounds, looking to do another 35 this year and just be in a healthy active lifestyle," he said.
Along the way, Mario turned his new lifestyle into a new career and business venture, too. He launched Uplift Nutrition with his brother Nick and their friend Danielle Rice.
"We're all into health and a healthy active lifestyle, so we decided to open up Uplift Nutrition," Mario said. "Give people in the community a healthy option. There's not a whole lot of healthy fast food options, so we call it fast food for smart people."
Nick came up with the name.
"The hands up on the globe basically uplifting people, so that's basically what the premises was," he said.
After starting out as an on-the-go pop up business, they're celebrating one year at their brick-and-mortar on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore later this month.
From chocolate caramel cookie and fruity pebble smoothies to protein donuts and waffles, all of the drinks and pastries at Uplift Nutrition might look like desserts, but they're actually good for you.
"It's healthy, but it tastes delicious," Danielle said.
Two of the top sellers on the menu are the Bills-themed "Josh Allen" smoothie, and Bills Mafia energy tea. Proceeds from this week's sales of those drinks will go to the Damar Hamlin Toy Drive fundraiser.
"Last year we did three fundraisers and this year that's going to be one of them too, so that's kind of where we got the inspiration just to help out," Mario said.