courtesy of Highland Park Village

Health & Fitness

The Behind-the-Scenes Magic of The Juice Bar

The oft-Instagrammed, locally-run spot is a healthy Dallas staple.

People don’t just love The Juice Bar. They love something very specific from The Juice Bar, the healthy Dallas-based concept with locations in NorthPark, Highland Park Village, and Inwood Village. The two most popular smoothies, Purple Haze (with almond milk, Greek yogurt, and blueberries) and Strawberry Fields (with juiced apple, strawberries, bananas), have practically gained cult status. That’s partly due to their mood-boosting, energy-enhancing ways, but the fact that the healthy drinks genuinely taste good certainly doesn’t hurt. “I’m from South Louisiana, where everything is about flavor,” says Heidi Lane, a chef and SMU grad who cofounded The Juice Bar with Tom Hennings in 2012. “Everyone wants to eat better, but they might not know how to make healthy things taste good. I know how to make them taste good.”

I sat down with Lane to hear the story behind The Juice Bar, and how their consistent, streamlined style helps them stand out from the national juice bar competition.

We have so many juice places in Dallas, just like any big city, but I do feel like The Juice Bar is super popular. Influencers like Krystal Schlegel, Meredith Land, and Jamie O’Banion are always sharing their favorites from here. It’s become almost a staple of the fitness community. How did you guys get started? 
Well, thanks! That makes us happy. It’s funny because my partner, Tom, when he expanded The Bar Method way back when, he ended up not needing all the square footage, and he really wanted to have a juice bar. So, he got the space situated, and he had the name. Then he reached out to me to make a menu.

And you guys met at SMU?
Yes, he knew me from college and that I was in the food world. I had gone to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York after undergrad. I ended up developing a forte for making healthy things taste good. It was a fun challenge. With my chef background and Tom’s operational background, it just made sense. I care so much about the flavor, I guarantee I do at least fifty tests before I consider any recipe final.

Where do you do all the testing?
At home. I like doing it when the kids are at school. It’s quiet and I have the room to spread out. Then I’ll let my kids test it, but I taste-test on grownups, too.

What did you do after culinary school?
I ended up at The Rosie O’Donnell show. Any craft and cooking segments, I was the producer that worked with the guests. So, for example, someone had the idea of bringing the food from the first Harry Potter book to life. I was like, “Sure!” I had to read the whole book for that one.

That sounds like so much fun.
It really was. I did the same thing at her magazine. I was sad when it came to an end. Rosie’s so good at Rosie. She’s a great actress, and she was good at selling her brand. It was so cool to see somebody know exactly what worked for their brand.

Did that rub off on you? 
Oh yeah.

Where was the first Juice Bar you guys opened?
Inwood Village in 2012. Then Inwood at Forest Lane. Then NorthPark and the Highland Park Village one.

What did the menu look like?
I think we started with five “creative juices” and five smoothies. It was minimal. It’s funny because Purple Haze and Strawberry Fields were not on that first menu, and they’re our most popular smoothies.

What was one of your goals for The Juice Bar?
Every summer I was in school, I worked in different restaurants. After I graduated from college, instead of traveling, I went to work at Houston’s (now Hillstone), because I wanted the waiter experience. Their quality is unbelievable. It’s the same every time. That’s what I want people to have here, too.

You’re also in and out of any Juice Bar so fast.
That was the idea. It’s very organized and laid out in a way that employees can be quick. I’ve already done all the thinking. I don’t want anybody to be winging it. Speed, and consistency, and flavor are our goals because that’s what everybody really cares about.

I feel like people are a lot more open to healthy ingredients than they probably were back in 2012. We’re all so much more cognizant of how food is affecting our health and our moods. Did you notice a shift in customers’ mindsets?
It’s interesting because when we first opened, there were only, say, two juice bars in town. Now there are so many. It’s kind of amazing how much has changed in seven years. For example, before, you’d be like, “Oh yeah, try turmeric. It really helps your muscles.” They were like, hmm. Now, people are game for it. They believe it.

I feel like people even seek out certain ingredients now.
Oh for sure. Our celery juice was driven by customers. I’m like, we have celery. We make juice. We can easily make celery juice.

Is there another ingredient that people ask for?
Turmeric is still big. Because it’s legitimate.

Is there something you think people should try?
You can always add an extra handful of spinach in a smoothie because the flavor disappears. The spinach you may not be eating in a salad dish, because you just don’t have time, just add it to a smoothie.

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