Good Food

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Juice: A booming industry

beautiful green juice photo

Sip on this: While housing prices flounder and the stock markets trips and dips, New Yorkers have an unquenchable thirst for $8 and $12 juices.

Witness the rising fortunes of several premium juice and cleanse outfits. BluePrint Cleanse’s shiny vans ferry spicy lemonade and cashew nut milk around the city. Organic Avenue’s orange bags are spotted on nearly street. Juice Generation is on an expansion tear, thanks to a partnership with Equinox. And countless smaller brands are riding high on our culture’s current love affair with cold-pressed beverages. If you were smart enough to invest in Lululemon ten years ago, consider “juice” a similar hot tip.

One reason juice and cleanses feel ubiquitous? The companies have been incredibly savvy about lifestyle partnerships. By teaming up with top fitness studios from Flywheel and Exhale to Kula Yoga, juice is everywhere healthy New Yorkers go.

Juice Generation founder Eric Helms

Juice Generation founder Eric Helms

“We had one store for 14 years. By the end of the year, we’ll have nine locations,” says Eric Helms, the creator of Juice Generation and co-founder (with actor Salma Hayek) of Cooler Cleanse.

Helms recently partnered with Equinox Fitness to open Juice Generation Cafes (which also stock Cooler Cleanse’s juices and raw food) at the city’s key clubs—SoHo, Greenwich Avenue, and, by month’s end, the 63rd and Lex location on the Upper East Side. “Juice is definitely having a moment,” says Helms.

BluePrint Cleanse, which debuted in 2007, has seen a tremendous uptick in sales and distribution. The restaurant-loving, workaholic’s detox brand of choice is now sold at Whole Foods by the bottle, and, in big local news, at Brooklyn’s Union Market. The brand just opened a Los Angeles kitchen for its West Coast fans.

Since an investment last year, Organic Avenue has grown to eight locations—with a Midtown East boutique opening any minute that will have seamless web ordering. At the Lower East Side headquarters, called the Space of Love, a mocktail bar will open on November 11. That’s incredible growth for a company that, until five years ago, was run out of the loft of founder Denise Mari.

There’s even room for newcomers, like Juice Press, a raw-food purveyor with irreverent slogans (“drink our organic juice a real lot and you’ll lose eleventeen pound in due course”) and Dr. Bronner’s-ish juice labels. Marcus Antebi’s two East Village stores have flourished on turf that was once just Liquiteria’s, and the paint is barely dry on a brand-new third location for Antebi’s (especially creative) juice blends on the Upper East Side.

Why is the strongest currency green juice and coconuts? “Juice is an immediate way to do something healthy for yourself. It’s accessible and immediate,” says Juice Generation’s Helms. “Plus it’s part of a healthy lifestyle that New York was missing.” —Melisse Gelula

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