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Dallas Entrepreneurs Get Juiced

They're bottling the fruits (and veggies) of their labor and doling them out to the city's health-conscious.
By Ali Finney |

In the 2015 Health Lexicon, being fit is as much about the cold press as it is about the bench press. That’s why around certain parts of Dallas, juice shops are becoming as prevalent as boutique exercise studios like Flywheel, CorePower Yoga, and Pure Barre. The business of juicing started in the 1990s, thanks in part to Jamba Juice’s founding at the beginning of the decade. The juice and smoothie market was valued at $23 billion in 2013 based on generated revenue, with a projected growth rate of 8 percent per year. 

The trend really hit its stride in Dallas over the past few years, when storefronts like Roots Juices, Buda Juice, and The Gem opened in the city’s well-to-do areas, where health nuts buy antioxidant- and vitamin-rich elixirs in droves. 

And, although wellness benefits abound—more than one founder started his or her business after seeing the positive side effects of juicing during chemotherapy—the average price tag of more than $10 per bottle is a steep one. Market research estimates that Americans spend more than $71 billion a year on juices, and without question, the highest contributing cost to production is the produce itself. 

Both The Gem and Buda Juice use only organic produce, and sometimes they have to import it. Kale and spinach, two staple ingredients of many juice varieties, are only in season in Texas for two or three months out of the year, so the produce often has to be shipped in from places like California and Washington. 

“You can have up to three pounds of veggies that go into one 16-ounce juice,” says The Gem founder Leslie Needleman. “It’s a lot of green vegetables to serve in one cup.”

For this reason, savvy businesspeople have been strategic about the neighborhoods in which they locate their storefronts. They’re setting up shop where customers can not only afford their products, but also where they’re interested in good health. It should come as no surprise to see an abundance of juice bars in the likes of Snider Plaza, Victory Park, and West Village. 

“It’s all location, location, location,” says Buda Juice co-founder Horatio Lonsdale-Hands, a British-born entrepreneur. “You’ve got to have the right location, and you’ve got to pay for it.” But he adds that although real estate can be expensive, Buda Juice, for instance, has a smaller footprint. It cold-presses and glass-bottles its wares at a central kitchen, then ships the juice out to  storefronts each morning. 

Although Dallas juicers aren’t able to bypass the high costs of organic produce, plenty have forgone trendy ZIP codes in favor of another cold-chain model that more easily brings products to the shelves of North Texas outfits like Central Market, Whole Foods, and at The Joule Hotel. Dallas-based Vim + Vigor and Austin-based Daily Greens, for example, both concoct their products locally in warehouse-like facilities, then put them through the high-pressure process at places like Universal Pasteurization in Coppell. The HPP technique mimics what happens at the bottom of the ocean, adding 50,000 pounds per square inch of pressure to bottles to kill bacteria and give the juice a 30-day shelf life. 

“In 2012, a couple of juice bars opened in Dallas, and we thought about following that business model,” says Vim + Vigor co-founder Annie Portman Stull, who started the company with her cousin Elizabeth Portman Black in 2013. “Then as the year progressed and we ran the numbers, we realized we would have needed other products, and we didn’t have a food or retail background. We decided to try to dominate the Southwest region as a wholesale product and online.”

But the brick-and-mortar route seems to be working for others just as well. Buda Juice will soon open its ninth storefront, and The Gem just opened a second location, proving that it takes green to make green.  

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