What Is I Love Juice Bar?
Fast-growing juice bar franchise has major backing, big plans
I Love Juice Bar is a healthy franchise that offers fresh-made juices to customers who prefer food options that are nutritious, delicious and convenient.
I Love Juice Bar’s first location quickly established itself as a leader in the juice bar segment.
When John and Vui Hunt decided to open a juice bar, they had a lot of experience to draw on. Vui had owned and operated Veggieland, a successful restaurant in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, while John had headed up companies doing everything from computer-programmer headhunting to private label manufacturing of cosmetic brushes and related accessories for global cosmetics retailers.
“I had done everything but restaurants, but with her background it made sense,” John says. “So we began looking around for a property that would let us start small and build something we could be proud of.”
When the Hunts found a struggling sandwich shop for sale in a busy corner of Brentwood, they knew that, in spite of the previous business’ struggles, they had found a good location. But they did not want a sandwich shop; they wanted to create something healthy. John had improved his own health — in fact, he lost fifty pounds — by making fresh juices every day, and the couple realized that a fresh juice bar would be perfect.
“There are a lot of places out there that sell smoothies, but what they’ve got is full of sugar and corn syrup, even ice as a filler,” John explains – “even many juice places don’t have great flavors and/or make lower cost juices”. “We wanted to offer an honest, authentic, chef-driven, all-natural, actually-helps-you product! We believed that juices — and other healthy, natural menu items that went well with them — would work for us and for our restaurant.”
Right idea, right time
A lot of people would have slapped up a sign, bought a couple of juicing machines and called it a business, but John and Vui are experienced entrepreneurs with plenty of success under their belts. They started by developing a brand.
What should customers experience when they walk into an I Love Juice Bar? How should they feel when they see the logo? How should customers flow through the space? What should the menu boards look like? How should the juices, smoothies and vegetarian fare be presented? How should the kitchen be designed to help staff serve customers quickly without bumping into each other? How would they get fresh, local produce every day? What music and colors are congruent to space and support the brand vibe?
In the process of answering those questions, they created a truly iconic brand and a space that is welcoming, homey and rich with gorgeous images and beautiful menu items that customers can’t wait to share on social media using their smartphones. Since they know their customers are almost always carrying smartphones, John and Vui also created an app that lets customers place orders on their way to the store. Think about it from a customer’s perspective: Roll out of bed, throw on your work ensemble, place a quick juice order on your phone, then swing through to pick up your fresh-to-order juice or smoothie. Goodbye, sausage biscuit; hello, healthy breakfast! Pretty great, huh?
Nationwide, juicing has become a $5 billion industry. No longer just for dieters looking to cleanse for a few days, juicing has become a healthy diet option for a wide range of consumers, including people in their 20s and 30s who are expected to keep this booming restaurant sector growing by 4% to 8% a year. Entrepreneur Barry Goodman was thrilled to open the first I Love Juice Bar franchise in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I think we could put a table in the back of the first store and set up a sign that said ‘Interested in franchising?’ and we would sell stores left and right,” Barry says. “This place is always full, with lines out the door. People get excited here. People like what they get, they talk about it, and overall it’s a very unique customer experience.”
“People are coming here because they want to eat something better, and have it made quickly and happily,” John adds. “They appreciate that what we serve is healthy, but that it’s also tasty, quick and reasonably priced. They come and go, but they also come and hang out. We’ve become not just a place for great, healthy food, but a center of activity for people who are increasingly embracing that whole lifestyle.”
Why juice customers are great for business
After opening in April 2013, the Hunts knew they were onto something. New customers became repeat customers, and sales increased quickly. That’s thanks to the excellence of the menu and operations, and it reflects a fact about juicing customers — normal everyday people who are increasingly serious about fresh juice and begin to consume it every day, and sometimes for every meal. The rate of repeat business is strong, and that leads to a sense of community among customers and staff. Whereas a good smoothie customer might stop in two or three times a week, a regular juicing customer stops in every day and purchases one or two juices a day. If they are doing a juice cleanse, they buy even more — up to six juices a day, which translates to more than 40 juices a week per customer.
“We were thrilled that we were getting customers who are interested not just in juicing, but in a whole, healthy lifestyle,” John says. “They simply want to eat well and know they are eating well — not just every so often, but all the time — and we have that in common with them. It’s a very good relationship.”
The made-to-order juices and other menu items showcase not only Vui’s culinary expertise, but also a commitment to locally and regionally sourced ingredients, and at the highest quality. Customers see, and taste, the difference. In fact, after just over a year in operation, more than 5,300 of them had already signed up for the Brentwood I Love Juice Bar’s loyalty program!