In the past year three juiceries have opened in downtown Fort Wayne. This may seem like a recipe for tough competition, but the owners of these businesses don’t really see it that way.
This week’s NorthEATS Indiana is the stories behind these juiceries, and how they’re trying to make Fort Wayne healthier.
Jill Howard had health issues for about 10 years. She went to the doctor numerous times, but no one could tell her what was wrong with her. She started researching, and realized she might have food allergies, so she decided to change her diet.
“I did a cleanse,” she said. “At that point it was just cut out all sugars, dairy, carbs; it was pretty much a raw food diet and water for about two weeks, and miraculously after about three or four days, some of the symptoms I was having just started to go away.”
Howard has been juicing for about eight years now. That means using the liquids from raw fruits and vegetables to create a juice that doesn’t have any added sugar or artificial flavoring.
Her experiences inspired her to open Juice Jar this year. It’s located in the City Exchange. Howard has also sold her product at farmer’s markets.
She was initially concerned about the competition with the two other juiceries in Fort Wayne.
“But honestly it was fleeting because it made me realize that if they’re doing it then that means there’s a need for it and other people are feeling and thinking the same thing that we are,” Howard said.
She compares it to local coffeeshops appealing to different customers and tastes.
“I just think that the more options people can have to get healthy and have access to fresh produce, fresh juice, I mean I think it’s amazing,” Howard said.
The first juicery to open in Fort Wayne was Jai Juice in October of 2014. Dani McGuire came up with the idea and runs the business with Julia Haller, who manages Pranayoga in the same building on Lafayette Street.
They call the two businesses synergistic because they are both about making people healthier emotionally and physically.
“That’s part of our mission is to bring that wellness into the communities and make it fun,” McGuire said.
Haller says the three juiceries get along because they all want to make the community healthier.
“There’s definitely, I don’t know, I feel like we’re all kind of focused on our own stuff,” she said. “Of course there’s competition just because there’s competition in business, but I think it’s helping to raise awareness about health in Fort Wayne.”
About a month after Jai Juice opened, the Beet Street juicery opened on Berry Street. It was founded by Sherina Collier, who started juicing after her father was diagnosed with cancer. She began juicing to try to improve his health. Although her father passed away, she says the experience helped her find her calling.
“After he passed away, I didn’t really know what to do with my life because my dad and I we were really close,” Collier said. “He was like my best friend, and that’s all I’d been doing for about two and a half years was just trying to help save him, so I kind of found a purpose in his passing.”
After he died, she opened her business with funds raised through a Kickstarter campaign. Collier says it was started by the community and continues to be a place for everyone.
“Beet Street really is here just to help people,” she said.
Similar to the synergy of Pranayoga and Jai Juice, Beet Street also has space available for artisans, yoga instructors, and other teachers to promote wellness in the community.
All of the juiceries agree that keeping produce fresh is one of the biggest challenges of the business. Haller, from Jai juice, says she’d rather run out of an ingredient than throw food away.
“We want to make enough, but we don’t want to make too much because then it’s wasteful, and it goes bad,” Haller said. “It only lasts for three days. There’s only so many expired juices that Dani and myself can drink.”
Despite this challenge, all of the juicery owners agree that making healthy food more accessible to people in Northeast Indiana is one of their primary motivations. They hope to attract more customers who want to have healthier diets, or who just want a different kind of drink.