Fruta Del Sol is a Bright Spot in Biglerville
By Karen Hendricks | Photography by Casey Martin
The color yellow might be the first thing you notice when you step inside Fruta Del Sol.
“Yellow brings happiness. We wanted people to feel happiness, energy and good vibes,” says Cristina Mendez, 27, who co-owns the Biglerville smoothie shop with her husband Francisco Javier (“Javi”) Lira Mendez, 28.
That’s why the walls are sunshiny yellow, with pops of orange, green and other tropical colors as bright backdrops for the colorful concoctions created in the open-air-concept eatery.
Sunshine, after all, is essential to their business. Fruta Del Sol is Spanish for “fruit of the sun.”
“We were on vacation on the beach, and I thought in my head, ‘The sun plays a big part in the way fruit grows—it’s fruit of the sun,’” says Javi, describing the brainstorming session that led to the name.
The shop opened its doors in May, offering healthy fruit-based menu items—the fruit of the couple’s labor, as well as their lineage.
In the Family Tree
Cristina and Javi are celebrating nine years of marriage in August. Their family roots are deeply planted in Adams County’s restaurant industry: Her grandfather founded Mamma’s Pizza in 1981, “the” Biglerville spot for pizza, that was passed down to Cristina’s father, Joe Monteleone and then to her uncle Claudio Monteleone. Not only does Claudio own and operate Mamma’s, but he also owns Claudio’s Pizza in Aspers, which is managed by Javi’s father.
For the past two years, the couple worked alongside each other at Claudio’s—and that’s where they began dreaming about an eatery of their own.
“People would tell us, ‘Not everybody can work with their spouse,’ but it brought us closer together. That’s how the business came about; we’re really blessed to have this relationship,” Cristina explains.
Despite their pizza shop roots, the couple decided Biglerville needed something different.
“Fruta Del Sol is our way of making healthy foods easy, convenient and fun,” says Javi. “This is our way of starting something together as a couple, as partners, showing our son that you can branch out and do something different. That’s one of the biggest things that drives us forward.”
You could say the couple went bananas on the menu. There are several fruit-filled sections: smoothies, smoothie bowls, yogurt parfaits and milk tea with fun bubble-like “bursting boba.” Smoothie bowls, the biggest menu section, feature colorful fruity bases, including acai, pitaya (dragon fruit), coconut, blue dream (coconut pineapple), mango or an overnight oats base. Customers can order bowls with creative combos atop, straight from the menu, or choose their own custom toppings.
Smoothies—whipped up with almond, coconut or oat milk—include the luscious Pretty in Pink, featuring pitaya, banana, pineapple and coconut milk; and Blue Lagoon, blending pineapple, coconut, mango and coconut milk. Take a long, slow sip, close your eyes and you might just be transported from Biglerville to the Bahamas.
It was important to give customers choices, including dairy-free options and the ability to add protein to their selection, as was using high quality ingredients.
“We’ve partnered with Hollabaugh Brothers for local fruit and honey, helping another family-based business,” says Javi.
“The Getaway” is a bowl bursting with tropical flavor: the dreamy blue coconut pineapple base, paired with the satisfying crunch of granola, sweet strawberries and pineapple, tangy kiwi, topped with coconut flakes and drizzled with chocolatey Nutella. Breakfast, brunch or dessert? You can decide—yes, yes and yes!
“Some customers visit Mamma’s for a pizza or sub, then grab a smoothie for dessert or a bowl-to-go for breakfast the next morning,” says Cristina.
It’s easy to do—Mamma’s is right across Main Street. And Fruta Del Sol’s building is actually owned by Claudio; it previously housed his childhood friend Marisel’s massage therapy business, The Healing Stone, which expanded and moved.
“I’m really proud of them. They’ve shown so much commitment and dedication; I knew they’d be successful,” says Claudio. “We’ve been around 42 years [at Mamma’s Pizza], and the community has been awesome to us, but I also think the community has been needing something different.”
Mamma’s longevity inspires the couple.
“That happened thanks to dedication and consistency—now we want that for ourselves,” Cristina explains. “It’s given us the work ethic and know-how.”
In the meantime, the couple’s 7-year old son might be developing a taste for the restaurant business.
“Our son is so excited. He could not wait for our opening,” says Javi with a big smile. “He said, ‘Can I take a [Fruta Del Sol] shirt and wear it to school to promote the business?’”
Cristina’s menu pick:
The Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
The Mango Tango Bowl
Fruta Del Sol
98 S. Main St., Biglerville