Good Food

Monday, February 11, 2013

Marcus Antebi’s quest to rule the juice world

Juice Press Marcus Antebi

(Photo: Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good)

If you’ve ever stopped in to a Juice Press to grab a Drink Your Salad (or a maca-based Horny Gorilla), you might have been drawn to an intense, tattooed guy with a shaved head, a hoodie, and huge eyes that seem to see the shame of the pork belly you had last night as soon as they settle on you.

That would be Marcus Antebi, Juice Press’s 44-year-old founder-evangelist, who’s driving the company’s growth so resolutely, he seems unimpressed by the massive competition on the juice scene. In less than three years, he’s rolled out five Manhattan locations—and he’s just getting started. “The goal is to take Manhattan and be the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world,” the former competitive Thai boxer says.

While Denise Mari has guided Organic Avenue to success with her quiet “LOVE-based” vision, Antebi is a force-of-nature CEO, running the company with loud, raw (food) force.

JUICE PRESS EXPANSION

The first tiny Juice Press opened in the East Village in April of 2010. Now, less than three years later, the company has five stores, including a splashy new flagship on Greenwich Avenue in the West Village, where, in the back, kitchen workers cold-press and prepare the juices and foods for the entire chain.

Antebi says two more are slated to open within the next three weeks (Soho and another in the East Village), and three more are in construction for spring, bringing the three year total to ten. He’s in negotiation for additional locations, too.

juice press

The Juice Press menu continues to expand, with a smoothie list topping 30, a new cleanse option, new vegan soups, and new juices like Miracle Mylk and Paris.

Helping the company along is the infusion of capital New York Yankee Mark Teixeira provided last year.

JUICE UNORTHODOXY

On the booming juice scene, Juice Press is somewhat renowned for its marketing materials, which Antebi says are essentially his own thoughts set onto menus, postcards, and the like. They’re sometimes bizarre (ingredients in pig Latin) and often off-color (“Smoking crack is the easiest weight loss program we know of” or “Eat fresh road kill because it’s free from hormones and antibiotics”). But they’re almost a form of self-mocking juice buffoonery. “I know I’m an idiot, and I actually take advantage of that,” he says, without cracking a smile.

As it turns out, most of these materials also come with information aimed at helping customers understand nutrition. Antebi spent five years creating a straight-up nutrition guide with his health guru Dr. Fred Bisci, which is available in giant, glossy brochure form at the stores. “You don’t need to read anything else to be knowledgeable about nutrition,” he insists.

JUICE TRANSPARENCY

Part of good nutrition, for Antebi, is a focus on freshness that borders on obsessive: Antebi’s juice has always been 100 percent organic, and he fervently opposes industry attempts to make fresh juice last longer in bottles for distribution (and economic) benefit. So every juice sold is pressed the night before. And if you venture into the West Village location, you can watch the staff washing carrots and massaging kale in the kitchen, via TVs mounted on the walls, as proof.

Antebi is confident that his commitment to freshness, transparency, and overall quality will continue to woo “converts,” including those sipping on the blends of his competition.

He seems to see himself as a prophet sent to save New Yorkers from dairy-induced digestion issues and Five Guys food comas, leaving little room for self- or business-doubt. Except, in one fleeting moment of humility.

“Maybe I’m not the guy,” he says. Pause.

“No, I am the fucking guy. No one else is doing what I’m fucking doing.” —Lisa Elaine Held

For more information, visit www.juicepress.com

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