When Elizabeth Beal became interested in juicing fresh fruits and vegetables for a healthier lifestyle, it was only natural that she share with friend and neighbor Kimmye Bohannon.
"I would make a quart for Kimmye, and she would make a quart for me," Beal said. Then they shared the juice with another friend, who told someone else, who told someone else, who ... you get the idea.
The friends began taking orders for fresh-pressed juice. Bohannon, who has always loved the idea of "keeping shop," decided that others could benefit from drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and that they should start a business.
Bohannon read about a man who sold soup subscriptions, and she decided the idea could work for selling juice. They started with 10 deliveries in October. By December, they had 60 subscribers, and now they have 80 to 100 regulars. The increase in business provided them with the capital to starting The Weekly Juicery. a retail juice bar that opened in May.
The business continues to grow, mostly through trial and error, and lots of help.
"We didn't have a book that said, 'This is how you start a juicery,'" Bohannon said.
At first, the women leased a commissary, did the juicing themselves and delivered it to doorsteps long before customers were awake.
Bohannon was delivering juice early one morning and thinking, "There's gotta be a better way," when she spotted a pizza delivery man pumping gas at a neighborhood service station.
She approached the man, Pete Spencer, for advice, and he said, "What if I deliver your juice for you?"
"He's worked here ever since," Bohannon said. "Without Pete, there would be no Weekly Juicery."
Spencer's wife, Xuan Camquach, operates the juice press, and their children help on the press team. The press team works from 3:30 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and the delivery team leaves about 2:30 a.m. to deliver the 16-ounce bottles of juice.
"The subscriptions have been a huge success factor for us," Bohannon said. "When you commit to a week of healthy choices and drink juice every day, then almost everybody comes back. They feel better, have a lot more energy. It's not going to make you look like a supermodel or make you lose 30 pounds, but you get a healthier result in the end."
Consumers may subscribe to monthly; weekly; three-, four-, five- or six-day delivery for four weeks, eight weeks or "however long you want it," Bohannon said. It's about $35 for a four-day delivery.
The juice selection includes green lemonade made from romaine, kale, cucumber, lemon and ginger; sweet beet punch extracted from beets, romaine and carrots; spicy carrot cider; and a kale energy drink that contains kale, cucumber, beets and ginger.
"In growing season, we buy local. We partner with Elmwood (Stock Farm) for organic vegetables, and they can deliver it to us," she said. In winter, they order from a wholesale company, Creation Gardens, because of its wider network.
The store is planning a three-day juice fast for customers who want to "kick-start their health."
"We're going to not eat food for three days. We're going to drink nothing but juice and water," Bohannon said. "When you do that, you hit the restart button on your body. It gives the organs time to heal and rest, and it makes you feel good to unearth those toxins."
If you'd like to sample fresh, cold-pressed juice, stop by the store at 436 Old Vine Street. Bohannon and Beal will line up shot glasses of juice to taste, and explain the benefits of juicing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend people eat at least two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables each day, but more than 65 percent of Americans don't. A serving is typically a piece of fruit, a half-cup of cut fruit or veggies, or a cup of leafy greens.
Substituting juice for food seems to be one of the health trends of 2012. Proponents say juicing is better for you than eating whole fruits and vegetables because your body can absorb the nutrients better, and it gives your digestive system a rest from working on fiber.
In an article written for the Mayo Clinic, registered dietitian Jennifer Nelson said juice from fresh fruits or vegetables contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phyto nutrients) found in the whole fruit. However, whole fruits and vegetables also have healthy fiber, which is lost during most juicing.
Nelson also reported there's no sound scientific evidence that extracted juices are healthier than the juice you get by eating the fruit or vegetable itself. On the other hand, if you don't enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetables, juicing might be a fun way to add them to your diet or to try fruits and vegetables you normally wouldn't eat.
Juicing at home can be expensive, with juicers costing about $100. Food & Wine recently named the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth as the best juicer. It costs $90.
If you want to make your own juice, here's a recipe from Food & Wine.
Fresh apple-celery juice with ginger and parsley
2 celery ribs, cut into 3-inch lengths
1 Granny Smith apple, halved, cored and cut into large chunks
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 medium bunch of parsley with stems
11/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In an electric juicer, juice the celery with the apple, ginger and parsley. Stir in lemon juice. Makes 1 10-ounce drink.
Nutrition information per serving: 35 calories, 7 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. fat, 2 g. protein, 3 g. fiber.