One September afternoon in 2011, the smell of walnuts and guava filled the air at the Village at Science Drive apartment complex in Orlando. As neighbors began knocking on their door asking for samples, Agustin Guardiola and Alejandro DeZayas knew they had finally pinpointed the start of their business.
“I never thought I would pursue a business in guava products. I had many ideas, but this one literally landed right in my mouth,” said Guardiola, 26.
It all began when the two University of Central Florida students contemplated their futures and ambitions.
DeZayas’ mother, creator of a guava-infused cookie crust recipe, handed down the recipe to the two young men.
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They had the ingredients. Next, they needed variety.
The two business partners began trying out new cookie-crust flavors, such as cinnamon and chocolate.
“We had all the bars laid out across our handmade table, while we waited for them to cool off and try them,” Guardiola said.
The chocolate and cinnamon mixed well with the guava, DeZayas said.
Starting with $275 for basic ingredients, the business quickly took off.
In 2012, Mama’s Guava Bars was invited to attend its first event as a vendor at a family carnival held by St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Miami, where it made $212.
“Seeing the people’s reactions got us hyped up. That event really convinced me we had a viable product and gave me extra determination to continue the business plan,” DeZayas said.
Throughout their college years, DeZayas, majoring in biology, and Guardiola, in industrial engineering, worked in their apartment complex’s leasing office, where they would leave free samples for residents and co-workers to try out.
“We were very personal with our customers. We felt we had built good fundamentals to continue our journey,” DeZayas said.
The two best friends continued their journey after graduation. Then, both moved back to their hometown, Miami, where now 30 locations carry Mama’s Guava Bars.
With the help of Pasion del Cielo in Coral Gables, a local coffee shop and the company’s first and best-selling location, Mama’s Guava Bars made $32,000 last year and $80,000 since they began, Guardiola said.
The shop carries the walnut flavor and a plain flavor called “naked.”
“The walnut sells a lot. My co-workers really like them,” said Katia Esquibel, barista at Pasion del Cielo. “There is even one customer that buys them every morning.”
Along with locations in Downtown Dadeland, Midtown and The Shops at Sunset Place, Pasion del Cielo’s newest shop opening this summer in The Falls will also carry Mama’s Guava Bars.
“They are one of my favorite snacks to keep me going throughout the day. It’s great to have their newest location near my job in South Miami,” said Mama’s Guava Bars customer Daniella Gonzalez.
The company’s website, launched in February 2013, contributes to 5 percent of sales. Customers can make orders in bulk, as well as Christmas gift boxes. The company also delivers internationally.
As orders began spilling in, DeZayas and Guardiola outgrew their home kitchen and began renting out a commercial kitchen in Kendall, where they are currently baking their products.
The company’s current maximum output is 6,000 bars per month. With an extra $45,000 to buy out a kitchen, that number would increase up to 21,000-24,000 bars and about $15-16,000 per month.
“Our main objective now is to continue the hunt in looking for our own manufacturing space to make and box them up by the thousands to sell,” DeZayas said.
Mama’s Guava Bars
Address: 10470 SW 124 St., Miami, FL 33176