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.

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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

33 Comments

  1. 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.

    • June 8
      Reply

      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
    July 16
    Reply

    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
    August 18
    Reply

    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.

    • Jaime Ibarra
      April 16
      Reply

      Now take this with a grain of salt. I’m from CA and in my experience you can expect from 8-15% of gym members to purchase from you. It does, of course, depend a lot on how educated and how “on trend” the demographic is. Whatever the percentage is you don’t want to rely on it to keep your business afloat, because it won’t. It might not even get you to a point where you are breaking even.
      Starting a juice bar and making it successful is difficult enough, but doing it inside a gym where you have less control over the environment (odor, visuals, entitled gym patrons) it starts becoming a long and ardorous grind.

  4. November 9
    Reply

    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
    January 28
    Reply

    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
    January 29
    Reply

    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. February 4
    Reply

    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
    February 20
    Reply

    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.

    • February 21
      Reply

      Thank you for you comment, Restaurant Man. It’s always wonderful to hear the passionate perspective of someone who knows what it takes to deliver success.

    • 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).

    • Thomas Lai
      May 15
      Reply

      Hello. I am looking to open up my own juice & smoothie bar here in San Francisco. How much money do you think I would need to start up? I was thinking about 50k. I am 24 years old, a recent college grad, and I am really considering doing this. Thanks

    • Mahir
      November 20
      Reply

      How are you? I know this is an old article but it pertains to exactly my current position would love to shoot some ideas by you. I have basically taken the juice bar idea to an international market. And needed some insight on a couple things.

    • Dawn S.
      March 26
      Reply

      Can I email you direct for advice on Juice Bar? I am in WA state by Seattle.

  9. Melanie
    February 24
    Reply

    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).

  10. Justin
    June 16
    Reply

    I live in a town of 3,500 people with thousands of passing traffic each day , there are no juice bars for hundreds of kilometres (or miles whichever you use) so there is no competition. How would I go about getting started? and are their any protections available incase it utterly fails (I don’t want to lose everything)

    • June 19
      Reply

      Justin, sounds like you are at the beginning of your journey! Try answering the questions here first and then begin doing the preliminary research on what it takes to start your own business. There are no protections in being an entrepreneur–which is why so few people go out on the limb to take the big risks. Good luck to you!

  11. […] to build a business that will last, they have to do more than just make a great burger, sandwich, handmade beverage, or salad. They know that they need to “sell happy” in order to create an experience around […]

  12. Linda Groshek
    February 14
    Reply

    It is incredible to read all this advice. I to would love to open a juice bar. There is not one juice bar in our small yet popular town. People are wanting a juice bar badly. My problem is I am starting a different hollistic practice that would work great with a juice bar, but I dont have the time or effort to see it through but I do believe I have the money and location, just no one to run it, and I wont have time to be hands on. I can be there daily early morning or night but dont have time to really work it and be there. Sounds like I better not go down that road?
    Linda.

  13. West wing
    March 15
    Reply

    I need help to set up juice bar in Geelong, Australia. I am running the restaurant at the moment, but have problem about staff. I would like to change to juice bar.

  14. From someone that works in the Juice/Smoothie bar industry and is in contact with business owners daily, I think this article is right on. Definitely it provided some real food for thought. I work for Tambor Acai, we supply premium frozen acai to foodservice customers around the world. It is my personal opinion that the pressed juice concept is just on the way out of center stage while the next concept will be/ already is acai and smoothie bowls. Want proof, look on Instagram. Also, the Southern California and Hawaii region have had businesses selling acai bowls for just over 5 years now. Now it is just starting to spread Eastward and North, as well as international, based on the requests we receive. I’m available to talk with any business owners/startups, just email me.

  15. Pratik
    September 2
    Reply

    Need to learn about juices and restaurants , need to gain more bout food industry .
    Thank you

  16. hakim
    September 24
    Reply

    Hello all. Myself and my wife are in the beginning phase of researching opening a juice bar. We have found a 1300 squar foot location that is asking fo $2 a square ft to lease. The space sits between our gym and and sports clip barber shop. The location sits in a strip mall and there is no juice bar around it. There is a ice cream shop in the same strip mall. We are looking to get some advice as we research this more. Please HELP 🙂

  17. K J Parthiban
    September 29
    Reply

    Hi
    Very good information. We are interested to open a fresh juice shop along with natural green leaves jice to make healthy & Organic food.
    Pls give some inputs to share your ideas.

    Regards

    K.J.Parthiban

  18. […] need a firm grasp of the logistics and demands of running a food service business. According to Food Woolf, most restaurants will fail within the first year after opening. If you have the money and patience […]

  19. Sawan
    April 29
    Reply

    We (me and brother) are running an integrated health center of homeopathy and Naturopathy for almost 6 months.as we have a holistic approach to healing, having a juice shop/center will be really nice. Our 600 sq. Ft. Space has a stall along with 2 Chambers and 2 treatment rooms. Though our location is not prime, we have a nursing home, school and a gym around. our stall can accommodate all the necessities required for a juice shop. We plan to start with 5-6 kinds of fresh fruit juices in the beginning.
    Please give your valuable suggestions.

  20. Interesting take, but what about the difference between cold pressed juice, and an ACTUAL fresh juice bar?

    In my area, these cold pressed juice bars are popping up all over he damn place. I’ve toyed with the idea of starting my own, because it’s getting harder and harder to find fresh juice. I don’t buy in to the whole idea that you can put juice in a bottle and store it for three days… and not have any nutritional loss.

    The fact is, enzymes start to die immediately from oxidation, refrigerated cold press room or not. Couple that with a large portion of the recipes containing high amounts of fruit, and you have yourself a sugar water dispensary.

    I’m curious if you have an opinion on whether or not a large enough market share would care about these specifics?

    Thanks,
    Matt

  21. June 8
    Reply

    You make a really great point about making sure that you will be invested in your juice bar for a long time. It’s true that something like this is not something quick and easy. You need to be sure that you are passionate about the product, and about the industry itself. Plus, if you don’t enjoy the industry, then I imagine that you wouldn’t be happy while running it!

  22. April 7
    Reply

    The other option is smoothie bars as an addition to an expanded offering menu. SO many stand alone smoothie shops have closed around the country along with fitness centers. If health clubs and the like would simply add a smoothie bar as a profit center to their facilities, both parts of the business would profit. SmoothieCompany.com actually offers just that and have a great product that’s worth checking out. You don’t need some huge refrigeration option or additional labor so overhead is low.

  23. Good information Brooke. One of the most important things that can be done is to create a solid business plan from the start. Getting a grasp on start-up costs, projected income and expense as well as detailing potential marketing strategies can prove very important in determining the success of a Juice Bar.

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