There’s something primal about juice. There’s something supremely satisfying about capturing the essence of a plant in one single cup. And, lucky for us, spots selling fresh juice are popping up around the metro area, serving up an alternative to morning coffee or afternoon salads.
Located between Alpharetta and John’s Creek, the newest Georgia location of Tennessee-based I Love Juice Bar is bringing the region a healthy and quick-serve option. The recently opened shop sells raw and unfiltered, unpasteurized fruit juices as well as smoothies free of sugar, dairy, powders or other additives commonly found in chain smoothie shops.
And there’s more to juice than just the common apple and orange, with exotic fruits and uncommon ingredients like pomegranate, wheatgrass, acai berry and kiwi appearing in the concoctions.
“The biggest differences between what we do and what you can get at the grocery store are freshness and connection,” says I Love Juice Bar Manager John Arnold. “At the grocery story, you have no idea who or what made your juice, and no idea when it was made.”
Arnold says he’s frightened by the idea of juice marketed as “fresh” that still has a printed expiration date that’s months away. Arnold and franchise owner Retha Blackburn value the freshness of the product. “We never keep juice overnight,” Arnold says, “and if we have any left over, we share it with our family, friends and neighbors.” And while juice isn’t kept overnight, sugar isn’t kept at all—there’s no sugar (or dairy, for that matter) in the shop.
Another feature that sets I Love Juice Bar apart from its rivals is that it’s opted not to use the popular cold-press method of juicing, instead going for a centrifugal and a masticating juicer equipped with high-speed blades. This allows more juice and fiber to be extracted from each piece of fruit than if just pressing the fruit.
For both Arnold and Blackburn, I Love Juice Bar isn’t just a savvy business opportunity — even though juice bars and other juice-related businesses have seen positive growth every year for the past five years, according to industry analysis — it’s a way of life. Blackburn was looking for a way to abandon an unhealthy lifestyle that included prescription drugs, meat and dairy. She set that aside several years ago and in the process of sharing her journey towards a raw-foods lifestyle reconnected with an old friend who had gone through a similar process: John Hunt, the founder of the I Love Juice Bar franchise. Blackburn then brought on Arnold as a manager for the store.
“I was one of the lives that Retha changed on this journey,” says Arnold, “and when we were looking to expand, I jumped at the chance to be more involved and hopefully change someone else’s life as much as mine has been changed.”
This new Alpharetta location of I Love Juice Bar is a welcoming and warm space, and a far cry from what many might imagine would be an upscale, trendier-than-thou place where rail-thin trendsetters one-up each other with diet regimens. It’s a family affair here at the lively space, which also features a kid’s table with coloring books and crayons. “Above all we try to provide some warmth and help people feel better in more than just their physical health,” says Arnold.
The new store goes through more than 100 pounds of fruits and vegetables each day, and Arnold says that’s projected to increase as business also builds.
“Alpharetta has a very large population of people who choose a healthy lifestyle,” he says, “and we want to reach as many people as possible, improving lives one interaction at a time.”