Dallas residents from across the metroplex love the juices, smoothies, and bowls at The Juice Bar. Since 2012, the local institution has provided on-the-go customers with creative, chef-created beverages and snacks that are not just packed with nutrients but delicious to boot.
We spoke with The Juice Bar owner and co-founder Tom Hennings about all things juice, wellness, and, of course, gardening.
Tell us about the history of The Juice Bar.
I have been in the restaurant business my entire life. At the time of The Juice Bar’s founding, I was an owner of The Bar Method. We decided to expand The Bar Method into the adjacent space, and then carved out a rectangle for something new and also health and wellness related. I did research in LA and NYC and found that juicing was taking off in those markets. At the time, there was nothing in Dallas, so I decided to go into the juice business.
Since I didn’t have the skillset to develop recipes, I reached out to a friend of mine from SMU, Hedi Lane, who was an accomplished chef. We had such a great experience that she became a business partner. Between her creativity and my operations experience, we were able to develop procedures and operating systems that set us apart from the competition that ultimately came into the market. We have added new products as we continue to evolve with trends in the health and wellness industry.
What do you think sets your stores apart from competitors?
When we first started The Juice Bar, we worked very hard to create an environment that was approachable to people that wanted to improve their health. There is an education process involved in learning about the health and wellness benefits of juices. So it was natural for customers to start with our smoothies and work their way up to the more “sophisticated” green juices. We kind of became the everyman’s juice bar, so to speak.
I try to be in my stores every day. It’s not because I need to micromanage my employees–they are actually the best. It’s because I enjoy the business and interacting with my customers. I have a tendency to give away a ton of product and joke by saying that “anyone can sell it,” but the act of giving is so much more fun. Seeing people’s reactions to a kind gesture is so rewarding. It’s something that people don’t expect, and their reactions are so genuine. I also think it helps build loyalty.
Your company is part of the wildly popular health and wellness industry. What have you seen change in that space since you started?
Health and wellness is a several billion-dollar-a-year industry that continues to grow. In the ten years we’ve been in business, the level of awareness of the nutritional benefits of our juices has increased exponentially. Juice has evolved from a niche wellness product into something that feeds the masses. People are more familiar with the ingredients and benefits of the products that we offer.
What kind of ingredients do you use in your products?
The nature of our products requires that our ingredients be fresh and high-quality. We’ve been loyal customers of a local produce company for 10 years, I have great relationships with them. Since our juices have a three-day shelf life, we get daily deliveries and produce juice on a daily basis. The quality of the ingredients is a point of pride, and everything is as fresh as it can be.
With the juices we make to order, we scale out the ingredients to the ounce so that it is a familiar, predictable, consistent product every time.
Speaking of fresh ingredients–you garden yourself and have actually grown with a Gardenuity garden! Tell us about that experience.
I have always been super earthy. I have seen over 150 Grateful Dead shows! I love to cook, and I love to plant flowers. It’s therapeutic for me. I like getting dirt in my hands and the act of planting something that’s alive and watching it grow. There’s something about it that’s relaxing to me.
I was drawn to Gardenuity from that standpoint alone. When I received my kit, the operations side of me was blown away by how much thought went into the contents of the kit, the marketing materials that support it, the instructions that made it so easy to set up. I was intrigued by it and thought it was a great concept.
I did the Sips and Dips, and I cooked with a lot of the herbs I grew. It was nice not to have to go to the store and buy them!
Is there a particular juice that you recommend to those who would like to make juice at home?
Our Skinny Greens is both popular and delicious. It has cucumber, green apple, kale, spinach, lemon, ginger, and cayenne.