“The grant helped us to pay our back-owed rent and utilities, buy supplies, and stay afloat.”Luz Cavazos
Among her cohorts on the Southwest Side of Chicago, Luz has long been heralded as the queen of sangria—and her legend is growing fast now that she’s launched Juicy Luzy, her own brand of the wine-and-fruit medley that is a staple of Spanish culture.
Sangria is something of a sacred art form in Luz’s Puerto Rican family. It was a ubiquitous presence at the tight-knit family’s frequent gatherings, and various relatives concocted their own recipes—but everyone admits that Luz’s sangria is the best.
“In our family, everybody makes sangria,” Luz says. It just happened that everyone liked mine better. We went with a basic recipe and kept changing it and changing it. Like anything else, with practice you get better.”
To Luz’ family members, practice made perfection. Friends and co-workers who sampled the sangria began to place special orders for more. Luz garnered the necessary liquor licenses, and in 2016, with the support of a $25,000 loan from Allies for Community Business, Juicy Luzy opened a production facility in suburban Chicago and hit the market with four varieties of red sangria.
After years of steady growth, the pandemic caused uncertainty and panic. “Things were going well but then COVID-19 hit and we thought we might have to close, which would have been devastating,” Luz said.
Due to the resulting health restrictions, Juicy Luzy could not hold events or sangria tastings at their location, which negatively impacted product sales. However, after receiving a grant from the Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Small Business Assistance Program, Luz said she was able to “pay our back owed rent and utilities, buy supplies, and stay afloat.”
Luz is grateful that Allies for Community Business could help her continue the business she loves.