By Jamie Webber
We get it. Sometimes you just don’t feel like making your own juice. Thanks to the rapid pace of juice bars popping up faster than the next viral cat video, you have the luxury of getting someone else to make it for you. Before this whole juice craze became a hot topic, the liquid greens scene was sparse. You really didn’t have a choice but to make your own and if you were seen drinking something green, well that was just weird. Times are changing juice lovers. Juice has gone mainstream. We recently chatted with two juice-bar owners about when they were inspired, how they got started, and how their businesses have evolved.
“Right now we have 13 juice bars across the United States, and there are 19 more in the works,” says juice bar owner John Hunt. Two years ago, Hunt was inspired to do a mini-juice cleanse after watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead. He had just finished a handful of cookies (that he purchased from Whole Foods so they’re healthy, right?) and was feeling run down; Joe Cross sparked Hunt to give juicing a try. Just two weeks after his 3-day juice cleanse, Hunt stumbled into an old sandwich shop for sale just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. What did he do? He purchased it and turned it into a juice bar. I Love Juice Bar is its official name but most regulars refer to it simply as “Juice Bar.” It’s also one of the juice bars listed as a Team Reboot Fave in our Juice Bar Finder.
I Love Juice Bar became the talk of the small town, and what started as a one-man-show has now grown into a selective franchise. “We don’t let just anyone start a juice bar. Our franchise owners aren’t just in it for the profitable sales. They love juice and truly believe that it helps you live a healthier life,” says Hunt.
While their menu offers a wide variety of healthy choices from juices and smoothies to Vietnamese spring rolls and gluten-free flatbread sandwiches, their sales reflect a different kind of 80-20 rule. The juices make up 20% of the menu, but they bring in 80% of the sales. One of the crowd favorites? The Mean Green of course, made famous by Joe Cross. Except this one has jalapeño. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked, “Do you want it mean, angry or just really pissed off?” depending on your love for spice. They aim to please. Find an I Love Juice Bar location near you on their website.
Another juice bar on the Team Reboot Fave list that aims to please is the longstanding, Juice it Up. This juice bar was quite ahead of the trend. Twenty years ago, a group of laid back Californian surfers were eager to create a shop where healthy options were a plenty. We’re talking the 90’s when smoothies were all the rage. Juice wasn’t on the menu in its early days, but after about 10 years, they decided to launch a line of fresh, raw juices. They were delicious, but customers weren’t yet ready for green juice.
“It wasn’t until 2010/2011, around the same time that Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead came out, that we saw more interest in juice,” says Carol DeNembo, Juice it Up’s Vice President of Business Development. But it was also around that same time that McDonalds and Taco Bell started their own smoothie line, and were giving Juice It Up a run for their money. As a team, they watched Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead together and were re-inspired to put the focus back on juicing. They transformed from a smoothie bar to a juice bar; in the last three years, their sales have skyrocketed.
Think of Juice it Up as the innovators of the juice world. “Before us, there was no chain that offered juice. Now we’re known as the largest juicing chain in the nation and we’ve been innovative ever since,” says DeNembo. But what you may find surprising about these trendsetters is that they encourage people to juice at home. “If you’re on the go, we want you to come to us. At home, it’s about working juicing into your lifestyle, not just relying on us every day.”
As a large chain, with over 100 juice bars in five different states, DeNembo proudly shared that they are a juice bar that has a heart. They want to help lead a wide variety of people into the juicing world, and bring a healthful lifestyle to the masses. We’d say they are doing a pretty good job, hitting towns with less than 20,000 people and others as big as 3.8 million.
If you’re feeling thirsty after all of this talk about juice, find local juice bars by using our Juice Bar Locator.