The I Love Juice Bar Story
How a young brand is quickly growing into a powerhouse
Building a successful business is nothing new for John and Vui Hunt. John had been successful as a global private-label manufacturer for major retailers in the cosmetics industry. Vui had run a successful vegetarian restaurant in Atlanta. It was the need to build a successful business that led to I Love Juice Bar.
Not long into the couple’s marriage, the family moved to China when John was offered a management position with a consumer products company. Unfortunately, just a couple of months in, the company decided to downsize. As one of the last men in, John became one of the first men out. Stress took a toll. He was eating poorly and gained 50 pounds.
“One night around 11 p.m. I found myself on the couch, eating cookies and ice cream looking for relief,” John says. “I stumbled on the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and it just rung my bell. The guy in it went on a two-month juice cleanse and documented it. It really inspired me.”
Thanks to Vui’s restaurant background (she owned and operated Veggieland in Atlanta for many years), the Hunts happened to have a commercial juicer in the garage. Two weeks and a mini-cleanse later, John and Vui knew what their next business venture would be. They found a little sandwich shop tucked in a corner of Brentwood in early 2013, and I Love Juice Bar was born.
Our juice franchise was quickly an impressive business
From the start, I Love Juice Bar was a hit. Most days the lines stretch out into the parking lot, but the regulars don’t mind waiting – and not very long. They know they’re getting fresh, healthy juice, as well as other gourmet treats that Vui has dreamed up to complement the juice menu.
I Love Juice Bar quickly attracted investors who wanted to help the Hunts grow the brand. NFL cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who lives near the original I Love Juice Bar in Brentwood, Tennessee, started out as a customer and liked the concept so much that he decided to invest some of his career earnings to support the growth of the brand. He has also become a brand ambassador, and hopes to help build partnerships schools and youth organizations. He also hopes to help other athletes build businesses that boost their communities.
The brand also came to the attention of Fresh Hospitality Inc. Michael Bodnar has been a franchising guru for 40 years, having started out as one of the first Wendy’s franchisees. His operational genius made him a go-to for turning around underperforming locations or entire companies. He also founded a technology business that helps restaurant owners track their back-office operations. Together with his son, Matt, a former analyst for Goldman Sachs, he founded Fresh Hospitality to invest in restaurants that specialize in freshly prepared food.
By pairing the Bodnars’ systems, Cortland’s investment and celebrity, and John and Vui’s innovative branding, menu and outstanding customer service, I Love Juice Bar has been able to quickly expand. A string of savvy entrepreneurs are already opening I Love Juice Bars throughout the Southeast. It’s rare that such a young concept gets so much backing — not only from franchising experts, but from entrepreneurs who are well versed in successful concept expansion. That’s how impressed investors have been by I Love Juice Bar’s brand promise.
National ambition, community focus
Even with all their success, John and Vui know that juicing is a very personal lifestyle choice, and they work hard to make sure that each and every customer is able to find his or her way to better living.
“We help people by providing a great product — quickly — that is tasty and good for them. Just because many people these days are in a hurry does not mean that we should not still be able to eat well,” John says. “People bring us thank-you cards, telling us how they lost weight or how they were able to stop taking as many medications because their health improved. That’s really what we want to do for our customers. That, and offer a great experience daily.”