Natural Juice Cafe
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday
Where: 2480 Limestone Parkway, Gainesville
Cost: $6 for a 16-ounce juice, other menu prices vary
More info: 678-928-4833 ext. 4 or www.naturaljuicecafe.com
Two years ago, Jeannie Copeland needed a change of pace from her job as a massage therapist. Since she had an interest in health food, and her husband, Brett, had a background in cooking, the pair decided to combine their skills into one pursuit.
The Copelands began offering organic produce to the Northeast Georgia community. After garnering some success, the married couple decided to branch out into a brick-and-mortar business on Limestone Parkway. The pair opened Natural Juice Cafe, which provides fresh-pressed juices and all-natural food options to Gainesville.
And while a health food cafe may be a gamble, the two Gainesville residents are willing to place that bet based on one simple concept.
“You can offer some stuff that is super healthy and green, but if people won’t eat it, it doesn’t do any good,” Brett Copeland said. “We’ve always operated off the rule that it has to taste good. We make everything from scratch.”
A majority of the cafe’s business comes from the food, which ranges from a kale-based “superfood” salad to an all-natural chicken gyro wrap and housemade sides. A smaller percentage is garnered from its fresh-pressed juices including wheatgrass and kombucha, a fermented drink made with tea, sugar and yeast. The clincher is the small family owned business is the only one in town with those selections.
“We’re doing things that you really can’t find anywhere else,” Brett Copeland said, referring to the beverages.
Locals appear to be slowly warming to the idea of beet juice, green veggie juice blends and more.
“It is growing and becoming a bigger and bigger portion of our business,” the 44-year-old man said. “I think people find us through the food and eventually try the juice and sometimes convert over to it.”
The juices and food may be altered and customized to fit certain tastes, preferences or dietary restrictions because the ingredients are natural.
“We know what is in (everything), so if you have any food allergies, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, I’ve got something on my menu that can accommodate that,” Copeland said.
For juices, Copeland will add or remove ingredients to a customer’s specifications. In fact, some regular customers have their own juice blends.
“They made one for me,” said Martha Hokayem of Gainesville. “I do it mainly for the nutrition because of the beets. They really have lowered my blood pressure.”
Hokayem stops in for a juice three to five times a week because of the convenience and health benefits.
“The people (who) come here come in all the time,” she said. “They are always doing something new.”
Some days Hokayem stops for lunch while she is out and enjoys the weekly specials along with the Mediterranean plate which includes falafel, a Greek salad and hummus.
“This is the only place we actually eat when we stop to eat out for lunch,” she said. “They accommodate everyone, which is really neat.”
The cafe has basic juices with vegetables and fruits that can be less intimidating, such as the common green juices and other mild-tasting blends. For juice aficionados, however, Natural Juice Cafe has options like “Frog in a Blender,” which combines beet juice and other healthy ingredients to create a juice with a red hue.
“We sat down and looked at some juices and flavor profiles that we liked, and started looking at juices in different categories,” said Copeland, who crafts the juices with his 34-year-old wife, his father or any of his employees. “Everybody has their version of the ‘Mean Green,’ so that was our 50 Shades of Green that we started with,” Brett Copeland said. “Then we just tried to find some different combinations that will fit different palettes.”
Popular food items include an avocado egg salad, a quinoa black bean burger and a harvest orzo. The cafe uses popular health foods to familiarize customers with vegetables such as kale and snacks like hummus, creating a bridge to help people eat healthier.
For those who are still apprehensive about the all-natural, unfamiliar options such as a kale cobb salad or cucumber soup, Copeland has a method to ensure people enjoy the food they choose.
“One of the things we love to do here is to let people taste the food,” Copeland said. “If you don’t know how you feel about something, take a bite of it and decide. Taste the soups; taste the sides.”
Natural Juice Cafe is looking to expand the menu to offer more vegetarian items and gluten-free options to cater to customer desires. The couple have already eliminated gluten from many of the items to make them available to people with various dietary needs, allowing anyone to reap the health benefits of the cafe’s juices and foods.
“People don’t tend to eat enough vegetables in their everyday diet,” Copeland said. “Just the volume of vitamins and minerals you get when you compress one pound of fruits and vegetables into a 16-ounce drink is beneficial.”