When Julie Harrigan graduated from the University of Delaware 10 years ago, the whole juice craze thing (think Jamba Juice) was just taking off. She liked the idea of it, but opening her own store was a bit of a pipe dream.
From there, Harrigan embarked on a tortuous journey — taking her across the country and even around the world — as she tried her hand at various careers and opportunities. About the time of Superstorm Sandy, Harrigan found herself working at a well-established cold-pressed juice bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
“It’s really up there that I learned what the modern-day juicing industry looks like,” she said. “It molded what I already had as a great idea.”
She had worked in the restaurant industry at Rehoboth Beach before and decided the beach town would be her target for her own juice shop. Harrigan moved back there in 2014, working in restaurants for SoDel Concepts, and continued to sock away her earnings.
Last summer, while still working two jobs, Harrigan decided to start small. She designed some labels, made a website, created some juices and began selling them at a farmer’s market, at a CrossFit gym and also in direct sales. From May to mid-September, she sold $15,000 worth of juice.
Today she’s gearing up to open a brick-and-mortar shop in Rehoboth, called Twist, which she expects will be ready for customers at the beginning of June. It’s at the First Street Station shopping center, right across from BodyShop Rehoboth gym.
“The logistics of actually starting my own business in Rehoboth has been a massive learning curve,” Harrigan said, noting that figuring out proper permitting and finding contractors has had its challenges.
She also tapped Katie O’Hara, an interior designer who has an office at the coIN Loft, to design the shop space. Harrigan said she expects to hire about 10 people total when the store opens.
Her juice will also be cold-pressed, which is an important distinction in the juicing world.
A popular tool in the industry is a centrifugal juicer, meaning it uses a high-powered blade system to separate the pulp from the juice, Harrigan said. The problem with that is the blade creates friction.
“Friction burns off a lot of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients of the juice, and it also oxidizes the juice,” she said. “It’s always frothy and foamy, and you have to drink the juice right away because it’s already half-dead.”
That’s why she’ll be using a hydraulic press to make her juices, which doesn’t involve any heat. “It’s literally as nutritious as eating fruit or vegetables raw, you’ve just eliminated insoluble fiber,” Harrigan said.
She’ll be selling freshly bottled juices, averaging $9 a pop, along with different cleanses, smoothies and healthy snacks. The juices can’t be made to order, she said, because the juicing process with the hydraulic press takes a long time. So far, “The Grass is Always Greener” juice, made with apple, pineapple, mint and wheatgrass, has been a customer favorite, she said.
There is another juice shop in Rehoboth called Juice Fresh, which is a satellite location of a Baltimore company, but Harrigan said she’s confident in her products.
She’s excited to grow her business at the beach, she said, and then hopefully expand to northern Delaware.
“I plan on moving way up north,” she said, “once I get established here.”