With terms like cold-pressed, raw and vegan making their way into mainstream culture, business is booming for Austin-based juice bar JuiceLand. Now, CEO Matt Shook hopes to show New Yorkers “Texas isn’t just about barbecue, fat and beer.”
If you’ve been driving around Austin lately, chances are you have noticed JuiceLand’s ubiquitous groovy orange and green logo across town. The juice bar that originated on Barton Springs Road has been rapidly expanding with the addition of six new Austin locations over the past two years. Riding the wave of Texan fare invading New York City, JuiceLand opened up shop in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood on Monday, August 18 — the first store outside of Austin.
"Austin is still JuiceLand’s focus. That’s the big take away. Brooklyn’s just for fun,” says JuiceLand owner Matt Shook
Shook’s partner in the Brooklyn venture is childhood buddy Clay Mallow, a New York City-based restaurateur. (The two went to high school together in Dallas.) Over the past few years, Brooklynites have welcomed the three Bs that make up a true Texan diet — barbecue, beer and breakfast tacos — with open arms.
In March, Texas Monthly put on the second annual TM BBQ pop-up at newly opened Hill Country Barbeque Market. Shiner beer, which only became available in New York last April, is now one out of nine brews on tap at The Brooklyn Inn. And Mallow’s taco shop, Guero’s Brooklyn, which opened in late 2011, now helps to ease those Shiner-induced hangovers with Tex-Mex offerings such as migas.
But juice? Really? We’re known up north for a variety of things — from boots to booze — but health food is not one of them. Mallow sees JuiceLand as bringing something new to the table. “JuiceLand, for me, is a fresh alternative to the more serious side of the juice industry that seems to be blowing up in New York right now.” Mallow refers here to plans to bring JuiceLand’s culture of quirky and local fun — which Shook has nurtured attentively for the past 13 years — to Brooklyn. Writes Brooklyn Magazine, “Predictably, JuiceLand has a bit of a mystical, Keep-Austin-Weird take on the juice thing …” We can’t argue with them there.
Most days, Shook can be found in his office, located in a cottage perched on the hillside above the Barton Springs store. In fact, Shook’s indigenous to the place; he once called the cottage home during his days as an employee at JuiceLand’s original incarnation, the Juice Joint. Shook has operated the juice bar at Barton Springs Road since 2003, retaining the location through a split with partner Keith Wahrer in 2011.
Maintaining history is important to Shook, and he was unwilling to sacrifice it in order to grow. “I’ve had customers come into this store that used to come in here in 2001 when I first started working here,” Shook said of the Barton Springs location. He sees the original location as a “hub” of health culture in Austin, a place to which locals and visitors return time and again to support healthy lifestyles. In fact, it was the out-of-towners that got Shook thinking about Brooklyn in the first place. “We have a ton of traveling musicians come in who are like, ‘You guys would kill it in Brooklyn.’” Shook said.
Shook plans to tap into the music scene in Brooklyn much as he has in Austin. “We don’t think it will be hard for us to find great music, great food, and great people up there,” he says.
Like health, music is an integral part of the JuiceLand mission. The juice bar's store location at 4500 Duval St. houses a record shop stocked with vinyl and mix tapes by local artists. The company also sponsors shows at local venues through a program called JuiceLand Presents. “We’ve got a booth at ACL. We’ve got a booth at Fun [Fun Fun] Fest. We have a yearly boat party during SXSW,” Shook says. “It’s a part of our mission statement to be creative and have fun.”
Shook plans to tap into the music scene in Brooklyn much as he has in Austin. “We don’t think it will be hard for us to find great music, great food, and great people up there,” he says. “We want to have the Budo’s Band come in, and Yeasayer, and Edan.” Andrew Brown, manager of the record shop at the Duval location, has made connections with Brooklyn-based OK Player records, and plans for a podcast on the JuiceLand website are also in the works. It will feature monthly picks of tracks playing in both the Austin and the Brooklyn stores, linking the two locations despite their geographic isolation. “The music is what ties us together,” explains Shook.
An employee exchange program will help further ensure the Brooklyn location mirrors its Austin counterparts, where juicers are trusted to get work done while having fun. “The Brooklyn people are going to come down here and hang out and work, and we’re going to send our people up there to work. It’s going to be like an exchange,” says Shook.
So there you have it. In need of juice or not, Shook plans to feed Brooklyn’s obsession for all things Texan. But don’t worry; it won’t put him out much. When asked why he chose to expand to Brooklyn, Shook said, “The Brooklyn thing is, like, a fun way for us to go somewhere we love. Austin is still JuiceLand’s focus. That’s the big take away. Brooklyn’s just for fun.”