Service 101: Beyond Profit, How to Open a Juice bar

cranberry date juice blend

If you’ve even played around with the idea of opening a juice bar, you’re not alone. Lots of people–about one in ten new restaurant owners today–want to invest time and money into turning fruits and vegetables into liquid gold. I work as a restaurant consultant in the city of Los Angeles and in a few city blocks there are at least one or two juice bars and there are more on their way. Fresh juice bars are a $5 billion dollar business that’s projected to grow from 4% to 8% a year.

So why is a fresh juice bar such a popular idea? Well, if you think running a juice bar is easy, think again. There is no such thing as easy in the business of food.

Search the internet for suggestions of how to start your own juice bar, and you’ll find advice that suggests that location is the most important thing to figure out first. After that, they say, come up with a business plan, and then come up with a concept.

As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry for over two decades, I humbly suggest you consider something else first: is running a juice bar something you want to do for the next five years?

Freshly pressed juices are the newest food fad. Lots of people want to get in on a business that promotes a healthy, on-the-go lifestyle for health conscious people who want to take care of their bodies in a fast and efficient way.

Juice, my friends, is the new cupcake.So if you were day dreaming a few years back about opening a successful cupcake or cookie shop you could franchise for a few million, then you’re probably thinking about how you could do cold-pressed juices better than everyone else.

And maybe you can. But location alone does not make a concept successful.

Daydreaming about restaurant ownership

Great service, innovation, and high quality products AND a great location are the key markers of a successful food business. So if you want to create a business worth running–one that will make you happy, perhaps make the world a better place, and pay the bills–then I suggest you consider these important points before you write a business plan and start shopping for a location.

1. Think beyond profit and million dollar franchising. If your goal is to make lots of money and retire young, be prepared for high stakes losses as well as rewards. Not only do most restaurants fail in their first year, but depending on where you open, you may find that juice bars have already saturated the market. If you think opening a juice bar will be an easy way to make a fast buck, consider investing your money somewhere else. There is no such thing as an easy buck.

2. There is no such thing as an easy buck. All restaurants–no matter how simple the idea is–require lots of time and hard work.  If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to make money, do not open a restaurant.

3.  Are you interested in spending the next five years of your career running a juice bar? You may be the creator of the world’s greatest juice bar or you may have a good idea that is hard to deliver on a consistent basis. Either way, making a successful concept work requires you (or a partner, or well paid employee you can trust) to nurture your business. Consistent care sometimes means being on premises every day for the next couple of years.

4. Are you willing to invest in training if you have never worked in the restaurant industry? You don’t need a masters degree in hotel management or food science to own a restaurant. In order to be successful, however, you need to have a basic understanding of what it takes to own and operate a food business. You may have read lots of chef memoirs and watched every episode of Kitchen Nightmares, but have you ever managed a staff or worked a busy service in a kitchen? Invest in a restaurant consultant like me who can walk you through the process of restaurant management, give you hands on training in a “dining room school” setting, and show you what you’ll need to know to be successful. Or, you may want to think about offering to work for free as a prep cook for a couple of months or get a job waiting tables.

So now that you’ve considered the previous questions, you have one more to ponder:

5. HOW will your dream juice bar be different?

My best advice to anyone thinking about opening their own juice bar concept is to put aside big dreams of cashing in and get clear on why you want to get into the juice bar business. Beyond profit, what will make you jump out of bed in the morning and speed to the juice bar? What sort of impact do you want to make in the world? What will your juices taste like? What will make them different?

Write down your guiding principles, sketch out what your juice bar looks and feels like, and ask good people who have gone down this path before to help you and give you guidance.

14 comments

  1. Kate Burton

    Smart ideas require a smart consultant. I love this. I especially love the line, in bold, to not open a restaurant if you want to make a quick buck. So true.

    • Food Woolf

      Thanks Kate! I think that anyone who approaches anything for the sole purpose of making bank will be sorely disappointed by the amount of work it takes to bring in the bucks. Or not.

  2. Chris Emptage

    Hi food Woolf I have been toying with this idea for a few days now partly because I need a job partly because I LOVE freshly squeezed juice and partly bacuse I had an idea that a stylized juice bar might me a cool thing to run here in Reading we have one Juice bar and that’s all takeaway think I can do it better may not a huge range but freely squeezed simple juice of on or two different fruits could be better then 20 odd combinations don’t you think? do I have a shot?

  3. Mincy

    My wife and I are considering this business in our market here in Jacksonville, Fl. It is not saturated at all. In fact there is a growing request with a major gym chain to lease the pre-builtout space. This gym will be opening 12 new locations in the next two years. Currently they have 4 locations and only one has a juice bar in operation.

    The problem I’m having is calculating projections for my investor. I have know clue what type of profits I could yield based on the number of members at the gym. Everyone is closed lips that I ask. This market is big enough for us all to survive but no one wants to share information with me in fear of me becoming competition.

  4. Clif

    Great advice! I am right along with Kate and Chris above. I am “toying” with the idea, and your comments made me re-think my goals. I LOVE fresh juice, and I have seen a good model in Germany, but I bet it is much better to just juice for myself than start a business. I’ll definitely contact you if I get more serious.

  5. Ken Gardipee

    I currently own a yogurt shop, my business location is established as I have now been open for three years. Looking to add juice to push my profit over the top.

  6. Carrie

    So…how do I hire you! Not looking for millions(would be nice) just a great income for a fam business. Small town in a big city. Just worry about initial costs of start up and what I can expect in revenue.

  7. Bobby

    The resturant business is a quick buck, if you are willing to work hard. I mean married to the business hard. There is nothing but money in this business, everyone I know that has a food business cries how there is no money in it, yet they own a house and drive very nice cars,
    I think one thing no one talks about is that the LOVE of the work and labor, If you dont love this business dont get into it, do something else, but if you love people loving your food this is the business to get into, anyone can start a business, but not everyone can sustain a business
    Thats why the failure rate is so high, you need help, good labor, every business has this problem
    And the owner must set the pace and the rules, I dont know if you get rich but its definetly a great living and in this economy a great living is not over rated.

  8. Restaurant man

    I find it humorous that so many people talk about opening a business on a whim. Com’on everyone it’s not that simple – if it was, EVERYONE would own their own shop/store and no one would work for anyone else. We know that certainly isn’t the case. Running a juice bar isn’t nearly as complicated as running a restaurant. I know as I’ve opened 16 restaurants and now own 3 juice/shake bars. The business model may be similar but the opportunity for failure is far greater with a restaurant and the potential losses can be financially devastating. A juice bar on the other hand is more manageable and requires far less capital to get started.
    I’ve worked as a restaurant consultant myself for over 10 years and while much of what the author has written is true they conveniently left out that when properly put together – from concept, business plan, location, lease holds, build costs, marketing, labour, food costs, controllable’s, and lastly but not least – your passion to work it and see it succeed are in place – you can make a VERY good living with a solid sustainable business.
    I worked for other people for years and literally made them millions of dollars. Now I make well into 6 figures working for myself and employ 8 people that I am able to pay a decent wage to. Owning your own business allows for many tax write offs from part of your mortgage as an office, part of your vehicle and insurance, equipment depreciation etc.
    If you are considering opening a business there are many factors to consider – however don’t be dissuaded by others telling you it’s too risky. Have a solid plan, plan to work and work your plan. It takes time and hard work but the benefits are far reaching and you’ll wonder why you ever worked for someone else. I know I do!

    Before you consider hiring a consultant – check their references, as previous people who employed them if they feel they were worth the investment and do as much of the work as possible yourself. After all it is YOUR business not theirs. NO ONE will care nearly as much about it as you do and they don’t worry about spending your money. Most banks have small business consultants and are more than willing to help you – it’s the business they are in to help you make more money so you can use more of their services. Check with your bank, look online, make a business plan and take the leap. If you believe in yourself and do your homework then you can succeed. It’s NOT easy, but it’s worth it!!!

    Good luck.

    • Joy Wall Spradley

      Restaurant Man Thanks! I am currently trying to see about finding an Incubator Kitchen to use space. This is one thing I think is important for me looking to start off. I’m struggling to get into this business wondering how to do this while working 3 jobs and being a single mom. I know I will do it, I need to break down and try to get a loan. I wanted to do it w/out getting a loan. I wanted to start small (small retail space). *deep breath* on to the next steps! By the way, the health department never returns calls, not sure why. I suppose anything to make it difficult to start a new business? Keep on pushing! Seriously hard to get all this going w/out $$$, do you suggest a basic business plan? I have several types (very detailed all the way to one very simple).

  9. Melanie

    So if the answer is “yes” to all of the above — what do you suggest about the next step? I’m researching ideas for this specific type of start up. Looking for all the resources I can squeeze (hehe).

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>