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An Experienced New Chef Helps Up the Ante at Ginger Juice

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Something had to change: Ginger Juice’s Erin Powell was turning fruit into juice all night long to keep up with the demand.

After an upgrade in her juicing equipment in April, she was able increase her production from 200 bottles of juice a day to 900. But even that wasn’t enough.

“Juicing through the night just became not sustainable for a variety of reasons,” she says. Hazarding a guess, sleep might have been one pressing concern. Powell concurs.

She put up a wall in the back of her shop so juicing could become a daytime task. It also expanded options for customers. Smoothies and more varieties of acai bowls could go on the menu.

Powell and Goatocado originally worked together to provide quick takeaway meals when Ginger Juice opened in the fall of 2015. But when the vegetarian food truck and caterer opened its own shop, she was on her own. And she wanted to launch more full-service, grab-and-go options.

She put an ad for a chef on Craigslist that was answered by Jermaine Jonas. It was an unexpected boon. “He was the founding executive chef for Juice Press,” she says, “which is the biggest juice company in New York City.”

Jonas left Juice Press in 2012 when the company’s environment became more corporate as it expanded, he says. The Institute of Culinary Education graduate went on to become a consultant, working on national and international projects.

Most recently Jonas was living in Los Angeles and working as executive chef for the Butcher’s Daughter, a vegetarian restaurant and juice bar with locations in New York and California. His life suddenly took a different turn.

“I met my partner in L.A.,” he says. “We’re expecting, and she’s from Prince George [County]. She wanted to move back.”

The couple considered various cities across Virginia and decided Richmond was for them. He joined Ginger Juice in December.

“I was worried he’d be bored to tears in my 577-square-foot space,” Powell says. But Jonas says that his real passion lies in starting up businesses.

Juice Press “was a 300-foot store,” he says. “A tiny, tiny little store. And now they have 50-some locations.”

Jonas’ focus on plant-based food started when he was growing up in the West Indies. He was allergic to both seafood and milk and began to look for other options.

“You grow what you eat,” he says. “Everyone had their own little vegetable garden.”

At Ginger Juice, Jonas is bringing his signature bright flavors to the menu and, if you ask, he’ll also help you choose which juice goes best with your meal.
He and Powell have big plans. They’ve already added breakfast items, soups, snacks and sandwiches. Next up is a superfood blend — a powder that can bolster the nutrition of the smoothies that customers make at home.

“There’s so much interest in it from gyms,” Powell says. Jonas is working on a plant-based ice cream, and both of them want to increase the wholesale side of the business. Health and beauty products also are being considered.

“We want to make a local lifestyle brand,” she says. “[Ginger Juice] was profitable its first year. We need to figure out ways we can increase that.”

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