It’s resolution season, and a pair of local business owners are hoping to capitalize on the influx of interest in all things healthy that rolls around every January. If all goes according to plan, made-to-order juice bar and health food counter Cville Juice will be open by the end of January.
“It’s a healthy thing,” said co-owner Kilian Graham, who’s joined forces with former UVA basketball player and fellow self-proclaimed health nut Sean Singletary. “People hit the gym January 1, and we’re making it easy for them. People love easy stuff in the wintertime.”
Graham, a longtime Charlottesville resident who’s worked at more than a dozen restaurants and delivery services, was working on the Ix Art Park when the idea for a juice bar counter and delivery service emerged. He was inspired by his father who, after years of neglecting to take care of his body, made the switch from the “standard American diet” of fast food and soda to a fruit- and veggie-heavy diet. Graham admitted to rejecting healthy foods himself when he was younger, but he said he evolved into a believer that nutrition is the key to overall health.
Graham said he was inspired by his father, who quit drinking and spent the remainder of his life helping others make the transition to healthier lifestyles before he died in July.
“A lot of the reason why people had other problems was that they were not properly nourished,” he said. “They were eating fast food, junk food, stuff that’s easy to get. It’s about really getting to the root of the problem.”
Singletary, who played several years of professional basketball after graduating from UVA in 2008, described his athletic career as “injury-plagued,” and said he didn’t always take the best care of his body.
“The last three or four years I’ve been more focused on how I eat and treat my body,” Singletary said. “People in this town have really accepted me. I think me coming back and helping Kilian with the business will be kind of giving back.”
Cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juice is not new to Charlottesville, nor is a menu with items like granola, hummus and lettuce wraps. What makes Cville Juice different and appealing, Graham said, is the convenience of it.
“It’s easier to not eat healthy,” Graham said. “And I want to just put an option out there that, if you want to eat healthy, I’ll make it just as easy as anything else.”
There’s no space for tables and chairs at 201 E. Main, the juice bar’s Downtown Mall spot next to the Paramount Theater*, but a window-side counter facing the Mall allows for some mingling and people-watching while sipping on a Hangover Helper (green apple, cucumber, kale, ginger, lemon and aloe vera juice) or Thirst Quencher (watermelon, pineapple, lemon, and aloe vera juice). The lucky people who live or work within an eight-block radius of the shop will have delivery via bicycle or on foot available; Graham said he likes the idea of a larger delivery circle, but he doesn’t want to leave a carbon footprint, or make customers wait longer for their order because the delivery guy is on the other side of town. For everyone else, there’s the curbside service, which allows customers to order ahead of time, pull up next to the store and pick up their snack or meal without even getting out of the car. Like a drive-thru, minus the fires.
As for the juice, Graham said he doesn’t plan to bottle and distribute any time soon. He’s a consumer of local bottled juices himself, he said, but he wants to give customers a more personal and customized experience. The menu features concoctions like the Liver Flush juice, a combination of apple, beet, kale, celery, lemon and ginger, and the Jump Start smoothie, with apple, beets, ginger, garlic, carrots, vitamin C, spirulina, echinacea, goldenseal, B-complex and banana. But customers can also build their own juices and smoothies, using up to three fruits and vegetables and add-ins like bee pollen, vega protein powder and ginseng.
Juice and smoothies are no longer just for the bendy yoga instructors and crunchy granola heads, and Graham is banking on the ever-growing popularity of healthy menu items to make Cville Juice the new go-to spot for “fast food.” People are getting increasingly more interested in what they’re putting into their bodies, Graham said, but not everybody necessarily has the time or means to cook an organic meal or juice down a few pounds of apples and kale themselves.
“With the bottling, because of the expiration date, they can only have so many varieties,” Graham said. “People love to create their own stuff. They can create whatever they want, and we’ll still make it taste good.”
*This story initially incorrectly said the juice bar was located on Market Street.