A new shop opening on Chapel Street is set to get the Elm City’s juices flowing.
After a summer of waiting, Sasha Zabar and his business partners Sammy Chamino and Max Young — who happen to be Zabar’s two best friends — are set to open The Juice Box, which will sell cold-pressed juices along with prepared foods and in-house baked gluten free goods. The shop, which will open in early November, will occupy the empty retail storefront at 1092 Chapel St., two doors down from Atticus Bookstore and Café.
Last year, Zabar, Chamino and Young partnered to open The White Buffalo, an e-cigarette lounge on Chapel Street downtown. Eli Zabar, Sasha’s father and owner of Manhattan’s successful E.A.T. café, has led Sasha to eat and champion healthy cuisine since a young age.
“Growing things really grows in my blood,” said Zabar, laughing in reference to an article published in The New York Times about him planting watermelon on his family’s rooftop at the age of six.
Zabar said his childhood summers were spent growing vegetables and making olive oils with his family in the south of France. During the three years after he dropped out of Cornell University, Zabar worked for French chefs, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten. During his high school years, he also started a warehouse party business. Zabar stressed that he wanted to bring a shop to New Haven that served vegan snacks with high quality ingredients and produce from local farmers. The Juice Box will have both vegan and vegetarian options including acai bowls and chia pudding. Zabar said he “can’t stand” the places that serve a few pieces of kale or fake ingredients.
“We are a [juice bar], but we want the emphasis to be on good food,” said Chamino. “There is a wellness revolution happening.”
Chamino emphasized that juicing helps bring nutrients to all parts of the body, and cold-pressed is the best juicing method.
The bar’s juices will be made in a juice press that does not use centrifugal force, meaning it will neither heat up nor extract any of the nutrients from the juices. They will contain neither sugar nor added ingredients. Along with fresh juices made to order, the friends plan to serve cold-pressed coffee and a variety of nutmilks.
Industry experts interviewed underscored that the juicing method Zabar’s store will use has become a major trend in America’s youth. Ray Latif, an editor at Bevnet, a magazine that covers beverage industry news and analyzes major beverage trends, said that cold-pressing has recently become more appealing to Americans because this method better retains nutrients and flavors compared with traditional blending.
Students interviewed said they will welcome the addition to New Haven’s restaurant landscape.
“I like Claire’s, but it’s relatively expensive and pretty much dominates the vegan scene in New Haven,” said Jess Hallam ’16, who has maintained a vegetarian lifestyle throughout college. “It’d be nice to have more explicitly vegan or vegetarian places for variety.”
Zabar and Chamino both expressed their love for New Haven and its food, especially the cheap-eats like the Wenzel. But they underlined that they saw holes in the Elm City’s restaurant expanse.
The Juice Box is an entirely different establishment from Claire’s, Zabar said. He highlighted that Claire’s, while old-school in its preparation, is classic and sets the bar pretty high in the city’s restaurant scene. But Zabar also noted that The Juice Box is focused on both the younger, student demographic and residents across New Haven.
Zabar also said he does not believe that B-Natural Café — the organic coffee and drink restaurant at 1044 Chapel St. — serves as direct competition for the young owners since The Juice Box will specialize in cold-pressed juices.
“We’ve been here for eight to 10 years, and I don’t see our regulars going away from us,” said Jessica, an associate at B-Natural, said. “It’s still going to be a little tough competition, though.” Zabar said he is confident that the new juice bar can fill the fresh and delicious food gap in the Elm City.