Why Juice Bars are a Great Small Business Option

The West Coast made them famous, but juice bars have proven to be a good investment nationwide.
Juice and NCR POS system
Thanks to a changing food culture, juice bars have become thriving small businesses. (Photo: Montauk Juice Factory)

Juice bars hit the mainstream less than a decade ago, but unlike other trendy concepts that fade, these hot spots only seem to be growing.

Todd Semrau is the owner and founder of Urban Eats Consulting Group. Semrau left the operations side of the restaurant business after running five different businesses for 10 years. He’s consulted on several juice bars and feels the juice bar trend will stick around for a very long time. Here’s why:

Changing food culture

Don’t equate the juice bar “craze” with Smoothie King or Jamba Juice. Think about a juice bar like you would your local coffee shop. It’s hip. It’s local. It’s fresh.

Juice bars tap into the sustainable, farm­-to-­table vibe currently popular within the restaurant industry. Millennials are the most desired demographic for restaurants, and they care about how their food is sourced more than any previous generation. Consumers want clean, healthy options at any point throughout the day, and juice bars provide that.

“The farmer’s market was probably the best vehicle for the whole juicing trend to show up and be recognized by mainstream consumers,” Semrau said. “It fit beautifully into the farmer’s market template, which highlighted local produce that could be processed and bottled. That sourcing aspect is huge for modern consumers who subscribe to the ‘eat local’ mantra.”

The way we eat is changing

Americans’ eating behavior has changed over the past 20 years, especially with how we eat our meals. Snacking is in, while eating three large meals a day is viewed by some as unhealthy. We also want more healthy fast food options, as opposed to the traditional unhealthy fare.

“Eating outside of the traditional time slots of breakfast, lunch and dinner is a part of life now,” Semrau said.

“With modern schedules being what they are, people are looking for quick blasts of energy in between meals, and juice bars play right into that. Juice bars have all of the elements to deliver a great, nutritious snack.”

Portability matters more than ever

The concept of a roaming office – be it a local coffee shop, a library or a park – is a modern phenomenon. This often means eating on the go. Getting nutritious food on the go isn’t always easy, but fresh juice checks both of those boxes.

“Portability matters, and more and more people are just grabbing things and going,” Semrau said. “The idea of grabbing a 16-­ounce juice that gives you a nutritional boost that you could consume in the car is big. People who aren’t chained to a desk want to fuel back up in between meetings, and juice fits perfectly into that.

Having it your way is still very important

The idea of being able to customize food to individual tastes isn’t new – Burger King paved the way in the 1970s – but it’s still desired throughout the food industry. Juice bars have the unique ability to be hyper-customized, allowing customers to be the ultimate deciders on what they consume.

“People can customize their juice occasion to anything they want,” Semrau said. “If you’re a big turmeric and cayenne person, you can customize a juice just for yourself. Customization is huge in the food industry, and the juicing industry is no different.”

New technology gives juice bars more avenues to sell their products

Cold-­pressed juice has taken the juice bar scene by storm, and it isn’t going away. However, the shelf life of cold-­pressed juice is very limited – two or three days, tops.

This means turning over fresh juice is paramount for survival, and lost product is a real concern for the bottom line. Enter high­-pressure processing, or HPP. This is a cold pasteurization process that extends the shelf life of cold-­pressed juice up to three weeks, which gives juice bars more time to sell, and more places to sell their product.

“We’re starting to see the juice show up outside of the juice bars into mainstream outlets, and the longer shelf life allows that,” Semrau said. “The science behind it says it’s healthier than typical pasteurization, too, which is another selling point for juice bars.”

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