In the wake of a growing juice trend, Tuscaloosa is now freshly pressed, prepped and squeezed, ready to welcome juice bars to its growing restaurant market.
Much like smoothie shops, juice bars primarily serve freshly squeezed juices and juice blends in addition to classic smoothie beverages. Tuscaloosa is home to two such juice establishments.
Juice Bar, a franchise based out of Nashville, Tennessee, recently opened its doors at the Shoppes at Legacy Park in Tuscaloosa. Katherine Bittman, a student at The University of Alabama, tried Juice Bar for the first time.
“I really liked the atmosphere and the whole design of the place, and it seemed like a really clean and healthy environment,” Bittman said. “I have been to the local juice bar by my house at home, but the atmosphere in the one in Tuscaloosa is a lot nicer. There’s a lot more variety of flavors.”
In addition to juices ranging in flavors from apple and carrot to ginger and kale, Juice Bar also serves smoothies, essential oils to promote a healthy immune system, and popular foods like hummus and yoghurt bowls. Clara Hunt, a UA student and California native, compared Juice Bar products to those similar in California.
“The main difference to me was the açai [yoghurt] bowls,” Hunt said. “I think this was because in California the fruit produce is a lot fresher, so the açai bowls have more flavor and natural sweetness. But I’m for real super stoked T-town finally got a juice place.”
Hunt has discovered that when it comes to juice, sometimes it’s worth a few more dollars to get the healthiest options.
“I would definitely go again, but just like any juice place the items are more expensive, but to me it’s worth paying more for something that will benefit my body more,” Hunt said.
For more local flare, the juice bar area of Five Bar in downtown Tuscaloosa serves fresh-squeezed and cold-pressed juices, as well as coffees and pastries. Charles Morgan, owner of Five, constructed the juice bar within the restaurant when he saw a need in downtown.
“It serves a purpose for the people who live and work downtown,” Morgan said. “You can stop on your way to work and get a juice and a coffee and a New York Times.”
Five offers a classic coffee shop environment combined with a unique juice menu.
“A lot of kids these days are only experiencing coffee shops at Starbucks,” Morgan said. “We’re presenting something as anti-corporate as possible. It looks good and feels good and we enjoy having it there.”
While juice bars are relatively new to Tuscaloosa, Morgan sees a future for the market.
“In New York there’s one on every block,” Morgan said. “People in Tuscaloosa are health conscience and they pay attention. I think there’s room for more.”
Juice Bar is also now a part of the Bama Cash system, which allows students to use their prepaid funds on their student ID cards at local businesses. Keeli Mallory, a public relations representative for Juice Bar through Capstone Agency at UA, said the juice joint seeks to quench students’ thirst for healthy options.
“Juice Bar is one of the healthiest dining options in Tuscaloosa at this time,” Mallory said. “It’s a healthy alternative to all the fast-food and carb-loaded restaurant options we’ve seen pop up around town these last few years. With the increase in students from more health conscious states around the country, a university of this size was an untapped market for this chain.”