For a couple of weeks now, people have been wondering why the Daily Juice locations on Barton Springs and Lake Austin Boulevard have changed their name to JuiceLand. All-around confusion ensued and rumors of corporate takeovers went flying, since Daily Juice is still operating in Hyde Park and its website is advertising franchising opportunities while JuiceLand locations sport banners announcing "Now Under Same Management."
Co-founder Matt Shook, the man behind JuiceLand and partner in JuiceBox / Soup Peddler on South Lamar, explained the situation. “Daily Juice is growing in a different direction. I didn’t want to be a franchise, so we cut ties. I want to remain independent and local.” His co-founding partner, Keith Wahrer, is still at the helm and moving forward with Daily Juice, with plans to open two more locations in Westlake and Downtown Austin in the near future.
Although re-branding is a tricky proposition and there are some significant changes, things are basically staying the same at JuiceLand at Barton Springs and Deep Eddy, right down to the staff members. Shook says this change has given him a chance to refresh after 10 years of successful business. “We have changed some of menu items’ names but not necessarily the ingredients, and we also added new ones,” he says. “We are expanding internally rather than externally.”
Aside from their new menu of smoothies and fresh fruit and veggie juices, JuiceLand serves refreshing aguas frescas in exotic combinations (cacao-durian, for instance), raw super food cocktails, herbal tonics, detoxifying cleanses, natural energy shots, house-baked gluten-free muffins and raw quinoa bowls made in house. They do not have a full menu café like Daily Juice’s. Instead, they offer various “levels” of beverages, from basic 2-3 ingredient juices and smoothies to more complex “next level” and “even further” concoctions with multiple ingredients.
During my visit with Shook I tried the 12th Planet smoothie, a blend of pineapple, e3live (a frozen algae superfood), ormus supergreens, cacao, papaya, blueberry, cherry, habanero powder, coconut oil, tocotrienols (natural vitamin E compounds) and mint. Yeah, it sounds insane, but it was delicious and very filling, let alone super nutritious. “JuiceLand is for everybody,” says Shook. “Sure, we cater to the athletic types and vegan folks, but also want to offer a way for everyone to balance their diet and lifestyle.” If that means starting the morning with, say, a glass of their Tree of Life juice (carrot, turmeric, coconut, ginger, lime, cayenne and beet) then I am all for that. It sounds like lunch at a Thai restaurant anyway. I am also intrigued by their take on the Mimosa, made with kombucha, e3live, and fresh orange, lemon and lime juices.
Back to the cleanses, there are many on the market currently en vogue. Blueprint Cleanse out of New York, which Food & Wine magazine called “the cleanse for foodies,” sells for a pretty penny plus shipping and handling. JuiceLand’s cleanses come in various formulas in bulk (½ gallon and one gallon) sizes, and are made fresh daily in Austin using high quality ingredients, organic when possible. Best of all, they are available for delivery if ordered a day in advance through firstname.lastname@example.org. “We want to be “cleanse central” for Austin,” says Shook. “We aren’t life coaches or nutritionists, nor will we hold your hand during the process. But we want to be the providers. You let your body heal itself.”
I admit that the only time I’ve done a cleanse I didn’t have great results—it was some powdered stuff I bought at a local health food store and perhaps I did it too harshly and quickly. But my interest is piqued when Shook recommends a short-lenght juice fast as a way to take a break from all the eating and drinking a food writer does (I know, poor me) and be able to appreciate flavors more intensely and cleanly afterwards. "People who live at the beach just take it for granted. But take someone from a big city down to Cozumel and they flip out,” he offers as an analogy, smiling. “It is pretty hard the first few days, but the longer you do it, the better you’ll feel.” On the spot, I decided to challenge myself to a week of juice cleansing, in the name of food science, the week after Thanksgiving. I ask Shook if a juice cleanse is the secret to his seemingly endless source of energy, and he admits with a smile that he hasn’t done one in a long time. But he is eager to see what it does for me, and so am I.
Follow Claudia's post-Thanksgiving juice adventure on her blog, http://cuisinexplorers.com.