ON THE MENU — Weight loss prompts man to open Port Arthur store with healthy meal replacements

Published 12:40 am Friday, July 14, 2023

Vincent Lopez’s business started almost by accident.

“I was a welder,” he said. “I was making pretty good money, but I was so overweight. I was close to 400 pounds with sleep apnea and high blood pressure. And my wife started gaining weight out of nowhere.”

His wife, Millie, had gone from 130 pounds to 195. After being diagnosed with thyroid issues, she began using products from Herbalife Nutrition.

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“I said, ‘If you want to, go ahead, but I’m not,” Lopez said. “I was overweight, but I wasn’t looking to lose weight.”

However, within three months, his wife had lost nearly 20 pounds, prompting Lopez to join her. And he, too, started to lose weight, — down 60 pounds in three months. His co-workers began asking about his method.

“I started passing the product to them, and I started making a profit off of it,” he said.

So in early 2020, Lopez opened his first store in Mid County.

“I’ve been trying to come to Port Arthur,” he said. “In 2020, when I decided to open in Nederland, over here there were some other nutrition stores. So we opened over there, and had a lot of customers from all over the area — Groves, Port Arthur, Nederland. A lot of customers were traveling from here to go to my store and said, ‘we need a store in our area.’”

On May 25, he bought a store on Gulfway Drive, which opened last week. And, he said, it’s perfect for the current climate.

“A lot of people go out, and this heat is miserable, so a lot of customers grab soda or an energy drink and it’s just full of sugar,” he said. “So we bring something a little bit different where people can still get their energy.”

All of the products sold at Next Level are sugar-free with the exception of any sugar that comes naturally from the fruit.

“We don’t add any sugar to the product,” Lopez said. “One thing that dehydrates people the most is sugar.”

With a line of smoothies, bowls, loaded teas, mega teas and even snacks; Lopez is using his culture along with his knowledge of Herbalife products to help others maintain a healthier lifestyle.

“I’m from Puerto Rico,” he said. “The menu we have is different than other menus. In Puerto Rico, they’re creative with waffles and doughnuts. We started doing waffles, crepes and doughnuts with protein. And it still tastes good. Kids like them. It’s nutrition for everybody.”

The Acai Bowl has been the Nederland stores best selling item, with more than 40,000 sold since the store opened in 2020.

“Acai berries are full of vitamins and antioxidants,” Lopez said. “But the berries are bitter by themselves. So we combine that with a protein shake and we add some extra protein, and the flavor that it gets — oh my God, it’s something else.”

Now down 130 pounds, Lopez is excited to share his secret with Port Arthur.

“It’s much needed,” he said. “A lot of people are overweight. And we eat sometimes, but we’re drinking. This is something different because you have a meal replacement with the protein shake.”

Next Level is located at 3708 Gulfway Drive, Suite A. The store is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays.

The Mid County store, Xtreme Nutrition, is located at 2115 Nederland Avenue, Unit B.