How to Run a Juice Bar (Owner’s Manual Series)


Don’t try to beat the competition by making the best product.
Instead, pick a price point and make the best product for that price point.  If you ask me which juice bar has the best salads, I’ll pick Heartbeet Cafe.  But I don’t try to make a salad similar to theirs because theirs costs $15, while mine costs $6. My customers show up 3-5 times a week, theirs show up once or twice a month.

The process is the business.
Amateurs think about recipes, professionals care about processes. Focus on process, not recipes. When a process breaks down, everything goes to shit. Create processes that minimize mistakes and speed up delivery time.  Remove anyone, including customers, who repeatedly fucks up the process. Letting a process break down is much deadlier to a business than pissing off a few customers.

Base recipes on process
Recipes should be based on, for instance, how long you want people to wait for something, never on what makes it seem fancy to customers. Complicated recipes means longer wait time and more mistakes so keep it simple.  Less is more and less tastes the best.

Choose ingredients based on infrastructure and price stability
Again, restaurants don’t begin with recipes.  They begin with your ability to work with the space and utilities infrastructure to develop recipes unique to your situation.  Ingredients you choose to use should be based on the context you’re working in: from the price stability and hardiness of an ingredient to the equipment you have.  Use ingredients in as many recipes as possible so you can purchase them at a volume discount and hedge against low sales of certain items.  For instance, we use beets in multiple drinks, a salad, and as chips.  That allows us to buy beets at a much lower price point than if we only used it in a salad.  The Nasty Shit smoothie is possible not because it sells well — it doesn’t, its purpose on the menu is to brand us as serious about veggies – but because its ingredients are used in our best selling drinks.

Choose your customers
Customers don’t choose you, you choose them. This will make you more pro-active in getting to know your customers — their fears and dreams — and make work more enjoyable.  When you host a party at your home, would you prefer to choose whom to invite or do you let random people in?  Costco doesn’t let everyone in. The best night clubs let few people in.

We chose the “Redneck Juice Bar” brand because juice bars, like yoga studios, are gendered feminine and men were refusing to come in. So we masculinized the juice bar so much so that 50 percent of our customers are now men, especially working class men.  And many of them are drinking kale smoothies and eating their veggies, they tip well, are respectful, they’re just fun to serve and be around.  To get their business, we had to piss off a lot of pompous and condescending customers, customers you and your employees shouldn’t have to deal with anyway.

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