It’s hard for a Richmonder to fathom just how cold and nasty the winter is in Buffalo, New York. So cold that Kristy McFadden and her husband decided to move south this past winter after Buffalo’s lake-effect snowfall — 86.4 inches — gave it the dubious honor of second snowiest city in the country.
The couple arrived in Richmond in late January. McFadden and a friend, Craig Brosius, had been kidding around about starting a juice bar together during that past fall. Brosius was living in Minneapolis, running an aerospace and defense manufacturing company. Also a Buffalo native, he, too, was sick of the cold weather up north. And it had been a stressful six years since he’d started his company at age 22. He was ready for a change.
Brosius sold his company in the fall, and the Pit and the Peel, located next door to Piccola Italy Pizza and Subs at 1102 W. Main St. was incorporated by the end of January.
“The space needed a full renovation,” says McFadden. “Craig’s sister helped with the baseline, but [we] were watching You Tube on things like ‘how to build a bar or 'how to do plumbing.’”
The two wanted the place to feel more like a coffee shop than the typical juice bar and its usual fluorescent green and orange palette. The result is an airy space with lots of raw wood, steel and plenty of seating. Menus are written on large rolls of brown butcher paper behind the counter. McFadden has a degree in nutrition and came up with a juice menu that includes things such as the Calm-a-Cazzi made of mint, pineapple, cucumber, and celery juice or the Gin & Juice, composed of ginger, lemon, cucumber and pineapple juice.
“We locally source as much as we can,” Brosius says, “and as much organic as we can while still offering items at a decent price.” They use pastured chicken and meats from the Shenandoah Valley that make the trip from the farm and processing to the refrigerator in 24 hours for the short menu of breakfast sandwiches, paninis, quesadillas and wraps.
“Everything on the menu is healthy as we can make it,” he says. “Clean, healthy calories.” The wraps are gluten-free, and they recently began carrying items from the gluten-free 3 Fellers Bakery. You won’t find mayonnaise on their sandwiches, just different spreads that riff on hummus.
Since opening the doors two weeks ago, business has been brisk. Next spring, McFadden and Brosius are planning to expand — eventually hoping for eight stores.
“This is so much less stressful than aerospace,” says Brosius. And the weather is much, much better.