“We’re a small sangria manufacturer, and we do multiple flavors of sangria. We started doing this in 2011, going through all the processes, but we opened up about four years ago in December of 2016.

“It’s not like your normal sangria you’d pick up at the store. It’s more of a traditional wine, and it has natural juices in it. If you pick up one of our bottles, you’d see the juice sediment at the bottom. So we tell everybody, ‘chill, shake and serve,’ because you have to shake up the juice to get the sediment out. We’ve had people from Spain and Brazil say it’s more authentic to what they make out there. In a restaurant, it could be more of a syrup base, which makes it a lot sweeter. Ours is sweet enough but not overly sweet.

“My wife [Luz] does most of the business because I still work a full-time job. When I’m off work, I go help her. We have a physical location. Think of it like a microbrewery with a warehouse and a section for tastings and events. Our landlord has been very understanding. We’ve been trying to pay what we can, but we’ve had all our bills stopped for the business because of what’s going on. Luckily, we were able to do that, but we’re getting online sales and that’s about it.

“[Before the pandemic hit], we were doing really good. In November, we started picking up Groupon, so that started working out real well. Back in October, we were talking to a distributor. Right now, the distributor is up the in the air because of everything going on. Groupon’s on hold because nobody can come in.

“Usually once a month we would have an event at our place where we’d bring in food from vendors or restaurants that carry us, so we’d bring in tacos or pizzas, and we’d hold 50 people at our spot. We’d put that on Eventbrite and charge a certain price. It was always a good time.

“My wife tried applying for unemployment, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. She’s waiting on a decision from the second one. If we were both into this business full time, then we would be both lost without anything and trying to figure out what we could do. Right now, my wife is still not paying herself. And the people helping us out actually volunteer.

“The governor needed to reach out more to small businesses because that’s mainly the backbone of our country. The only thing we kept on hearing is you can’t do nothing, you know, everything’s on lockdown. There should’ve been more people on hand with him. He was making decisions on his sole basis and not hearing from anyone else.

“Our excise tax being pushed off might help. They just increased the excise tax last year. I think it’s the wrong time to do anything like [the progressive income tax]. My personal opinion is that the governor is making the wrong judgment because you’re going to do a progressive tax and start pushing people out of Illinois. We’ve considered [moving]. And looking at excise tax, Indiana and Wisconsin are a heck of a lot cheaper than Illinois. If we had a distributor, we wouldn’t have to worry about anything in Illinois.

“At least online sales have been able to bring in money in the meantime, but it’s not enough. Hopefully things open up sooner because I know it’s not only me, but a lot of small businesses are hoping for it.”

Antonio Cavazos
Co-owner, Juicy Luzy Sangria
Oak Lawn, Illinois