Upper Montclair has a new spot for healthy, organic drinks and snacks on the go. It’s called Juice Culture and it’s the brainchild of Kacy Erdelyi, a Montclair mom with a strong interest in health and nutrition who had been waiting for and wanting a juice and smoothie place to open in the area and decided to make it happen herself.
Erdelyi, who was working in NYC part time and home with her two young children two days a week, also wanted to make a change and give up her long commute. She was also missing the kinds of healthy juice and smoothie places she frequented at work in the city and also when she and her family lived in Brooklyn.
A background in business and marketing helped her get up to speed quickly on creating a business plan for Juice Culture; she hired consultants to assist with the restaurant/food business end.
“I don’t have a food background but I’ve always had a high level of interest in health and wellness,” says Erdelyi. “One of the things I’ve learned is not to diet or deprive yourself.”
Instead, because it’s easier to “say what I am going to do than what I’m not going to do,” Erdelyi made it her mantra a few years back to get four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit every day. “I found that when I did that, I was able to eat well and get all the nutrients I needed and wasn’t filling up on unhealthy choices.”
The menu at Juice Culture includes cold-pressed juices, blends (smoothies), bowls (featuring bases like acai peanut butter, pitaya or yogurt, as well as an oatmeal option), hot infusions and kids treats.
Erdelyi envisions Juice Culture as having a coffee-shop vibe (one menu item, The Greg, features Java Love cold-brew coffee, soy milk, banana, peanut butter, cacao, date, raw honey and ice) where people can come in for a drink or a snack and linger, meet up with friends, even do a little work.
Natural and organic is important to Erdelyi who says Juice Culture’s granola is sweetened with honey, and blends and bowls get sweetness from real fruit as opposed to anything artificial. “Our acai base doesn’t have sweetener, but adding fruit and granola makes it sweet, as well as adding peanut butter, fruit and honey.”
Erdelyi knows how important it is for moms to have a place to stop while doing errands and be able to give their child a healthy treat. So all juices and blended smoothie drinks can be made kid-sized. There’s also a separate kids menu, kids’ size tables and some fun things like a handstamp station.
Erdelyi expects to get a lunch crowd for the bowls, featuring acai and pitaya, as well as an after school crowd. She’s also looking to partner with local businesses (one idea in the works is healthy juice and fruit blend mixers for Angelbeck’s customers to try with vodka or tequila).
Other conveniences will be Chow Now, an ordering app, that will allow customers to order and get curbside deliveries in the parking spot behind the store as well as a plan to deliver to the Upper Montclair train platform for morning commuters who want a healthy breakfast on the go.
Juice Culture’s mission is to make healthy food more accessible for all residents of Montclair.
“We’ve been able to put some operations in place that will allow us to offer a lifetime 50% off discount to any Montclair resident that qualifies for the Families First (formerly food stamps) program,” says Erdelyi. “We really hope that can help Juice Culture be a healthy haven for everyone.”
Juice Culture, 617 Valley Road, Upper Montclair. Grand Opening on Thursday, July 27, with 50 percent off all day (8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.) and free samples, as well as a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. with Mayor Jackson.
Photos: Bill Horan