The Juice Box — a juice shop that has been under construction since October — will finally open its doors on Chapel Street across from the Yale University Art Gallery Friday, becoming the first store to bring cold-pressed juices to the Elm City.
Friday’s soft launch will showcase the store’s wide variety of juice blends that start at $5 per bottle and include mixes such as The Young, a blend of coconut water and meat with salt and vanilla, and The Kathy, squeezed from apple, beets, lemon and ginger. Yale students and Elm City patrons will also be able to choose from eight different smoothies and five types of acai bowls, including one topped with blueberries, banana, granola and bee pollen.
Owners Sammy Chamino and Sasha Zabar said they decided to open up shop in New Haven after seeing the popularity of juice joints in New York City, where they both grew up. With Alexion’s return to the city after spending 16 years headquartered in Cheshire, New Haven appears to be an ideal and growing market for the trending product.
“If New York and Chicago and Los Angeles are primary markets, we think of New Haven as a secondary market that business owners actually overlook,” Zabar said. “But we saw trends that are happening elsewhere that would really fit.”
Zabar added that the low cost of rent for business spaces in the Elm City, combined with the low barriers to entry and accessibility of local officials compared to difficulties in New York City, contributed to their conviction that the Elm City would be the ideal place to open their business.
Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, New Haven economic development administrator, also said he expects New Haven to be a positive climate for the new business. The Juice Box’s introduction of cold-pressed juice — which has exploded in popularity in large metros such as Los Angeles, New York City and Miami — fills an expected niche in New Haven, Nemerson said.
“Cities like New Haven evolve because there are lots of people on the inside and the outside that are looking for categories that are unfulfilled,” Nemerson said. “And that is why money is flowing into the food service business here.”
Though Yale students and Elm City residents may already purchase juices at Maison Mathis and B-Natural Cafe, those two stores do not serve the sort of cold-pressed juices one would find in big city juiceries. Instead, they extract juice via a centrifugal process, which rapidly spins the pulp to extract juice, or by applying force to the fruit by hand.
In contrast, at The Juice Box, a $20,000 steel hydraulic press behind the wooden counter applies pressure to the pulp of fruits, vegetables and herbs to squeeze their juices, Zabar explained. This cold-press method, which requires roughly three pounds of raw ingredients to create one bottle, preserves fibers and other nutrients, he added.
“We are aiming for a clientele of people who care about the food and beverages they are putting in their body,” Zabar said. “You just have to care about fresh food that really tastes great.”
The Juice Box is not the first of Zabar and Chamino’s business ventures in the Elm City. In 2014, Zabar and Chamino partnered with their friend Max Young, who is also a partner in The Juice Box, to open The White Buffalo — an e-cigarette shop on Chapel Street.
Correction, April 29: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the name of Zabar and Chamino’s e-cigarette shop; in fact, it is The White Buffalo. It also failed to identify Max Young as a business partner.