The Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace is hauntingly quiet these days — a far cry from when workers at the Fudgery once tossed around oozy, chocolate sweets as they sang to onlookers.

But soon, one corner of the pavilion will be filled with the sounds of blenders, juicers and young people chatting with customers.

RICH Juice Bar, which opened its first location in Cherry Hill last year, is opening a second store in Harborplace, joining several other small businesses taking a chance on a venue that’s seen better days. The juice bar will honor its youth-employed model, workforce development aims, and goal to provide healthy food and drinks.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d have a business in Harborplace,” said Michael Battle Jr., one of the owners of RICH Juice Bar, which is a social enterprise of Cherry Hill nonprofit the RICH Program, or Restoring Inner City Hope.

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Dani and Michael Battle, owners of RICH Juice Bar, speak about their vision for the business inside of their new location in the Light Street Pavilion, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Wesley Lapointe/for the Baltimore Banner)

As a Baltimore native, Battle remembers how busy Harborplace once was and is instantly filled with nostalgia when he looks around their new location between the shuttered Johnny Rockets and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurants.

Dani Battle, Michael’s wife and co-owner, recalls Harborplace as one of the first places she visited as a tourist from Minnesota before she attended Morgan State University. She’s looking forward to being “part of the people to bring light and life” to the pavilions.

The move is a “big deal” for them, especially since their first location hasn’t even been open a year. The expansion is also a great example that “kids can exist and flourish in all kinds of areas,” Dani said. They’re planning to have a grand opening on May 27, which coincides with the anniversary of the first location, Michael’s mother’s birthday and the establishment of the nonprofit. They’d also like to bus people from Cherry Hill to enjoy the grand opening at Harborplace.

RICH Juice Bar is one of several businesses taking advantage of a local tenancy plan put in place after MCB Real Estate purchased Harborplace, with plans to overhaul it and make it a popular destination again. The plan provides tenancy for as many local Baltimore businesses, especially those that are Black and woman-owned, and discounted leasing terms, according to a MCB leasing representative.

How do newer tenants play into the big revitalization plans for Harborplace? The hope is that businesses find enough success during their temporary stay that they stick around for the new Harborplace, a MCB leasing representative added.

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Dani Battle said it feels like they’re joining a family of the other small businesses that have settled into the pavilions.

Amanda Mack, owner of Crust by Mack, was one of the first tenants to move into Harborplace under its new ownership. She made sure to be one of the first people to greet the Battles. Mack said it’s challenging starting a business, especially when you’re a minority, so it’s important to be supported — and that’s exactly what current tenants do for each other.

“Everybody here is not just thinking about a business, they’re thinking about Baltimore,” Mack said.

Mack also reassured the Battles that she’s had positive experiences so far and “it’s nice to know people are coming into a place that has good intentions and wants you to succeed.”

Currently, there are events being mapped out Thursdays through Sundays to attract customers. And, there’s also a push to get more signage.

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“It’s like Baltimore loving on Baltimore,” Dani Battle said, adding that it can often seem like only the “little guy” can see the potential of Baltimore.

Meanwhile, Michael and Dani are grateful that their first location made it through the winter months and are training a manager for the Light Street location. They also hope to hire young people from nearby Digital Harbor High School.

The now light pink and green storefront in the pavilion will need a bit of work, but the Battles chose it because it already has many of the utilities they built from scratch at their first location.

The new location of RICH Juice Bar is seen inside the empty Light Street Pavilion on Wednesday, April 17, 2024. (Wesley Lapointe/for the Baltimore Banner)

They’ll start working on some summer menu items soon, Dani Battle said, maybe something with peaches. They want to continue providing affordable food options and educating people about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Michael Battle, who once struggled with diabetes and high blood pressure, saw positive changes after changing his diet. He wants others to have the option to do so, too.

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One bestseller in Cherry Hill is the açai bowl, but Michael and Dani have their own favorites, like Rich Beets, made with pineapple, beets, lemon and ginger. There’s also the Hillside Green, made of blended spinach, apple, cucumber, lime and ginger.

The Battles can’t wait to see the kids in the new environment interacting with people from all walks of life. It’s good exposure for them and broadens their perceptions of what’s possible, they said.

“Baltimore, the entire city, is yours, not just one corner,” Dani Battle said.

Jasmine Vaughn-Hall is a neighborhood and community reporter at the Baltimore Banner, covering the people, challenges, and solutions within West Baltimore. Have a tip about something happening in your community? Taco recommendations? Call or text Jasmine at 443-608-8983.

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