Queen Street juice bar tries to offer healthy, tasty drinks in a fun way
By Sara MacLeod
Health is wealth.
Owners of a picturesque health drink store located on Queen Street follow this philosophy. The store: Just Juicin'.
Wayne Legere and Karen Rennie set up shop in Charlottetown in May, 1997. Today, the husband and wife team's business is well-known. Especially to those people who are looking for more than just a thirst quencher, but a dietary supplement or even an energy booster.
"I came to stock up on stress buster," a lady informs Rennie. They engage in conversation; Rennie offers her recommendations on a particular product and the customer listens intently.
"I'll get the door for you," Rennie volunteers, interrupting her humming along to a song.
It's the same with all the customers. They're known to Rennie on a first-name basis and she never forgets to see them out or to hold the door.
The lady is about to board a plane and is seeking a remedy that will immunize her system and keep her from feeling nauseated on her travels.
"It's made to taste good," she says of the juices, "but at the same time, there's real therapeutic properties to it."
Rennie and her husband decided to go ahead with their plans after conducting two surveys on the Island to see what the demand was for such a business.
The first one came six months before they made their decision; the other, after they arrived.
"We wanted something within the P.E.I. market niche that wasn't filled," she explains. "There was a market need for it. We wanted a fun, health-conscious business."
Although the concept of opening a juice store wasn't a new one, it was relatively unheard of on the Island. Yet, just like any other store of its kind, the health aspect is stressed the most.
"Health is very important here," Rennie says. "It's not like an ice cream parlour."
Consisting of 10 fresh fruit juices and approximately 20 smoothies (fresh and frozen fruit and low-fat yogurt blended to create a meal supplement), the menu also offers low-fat foods such as pita wraps and bagels.
The bar also has herbal teas and a few foreign drinks.
Rennie stresses how important it is for she and her husband to have a fun overtone to their business.
"We want to present it in a fun fashion, not something grueling like, ĆEat your vegetables.'"
The two also try to support other local businesses and keep their produce range within the Maritimes. Whether it be buying their extra supplements from the Root Cellar or carrying a local farmer's produce, they'll help out any way they can.
They also give away the rubbage left over after they're done juicing their fruits and vegetables so people can use it as compost. Some use it for other purposes.
"Some feed the rabbits at Brackley Beach and some feed their horses," Rennie says. "And we've got babies that come in that whine and cry for carrot juice."
She adds that some customers buy their juices for unusual reasons. Once, a sick race horse was given juice from the bar and, sure enough, he recuperated quicker than expected. To top it all off, he timed in three minutes quicker than usual. Some customers go on juice fasts once a month, to better their bodies.
"It's just like spring cleaning," she says. "They do it once a month. It increases your energy and mental alertness. And it gives your organs a little time to relax. And you don't get that high and low that you would from caffeine."
She adds that most who have engaged in the fast feel a lot better the next day. Although the shop is open year-round, Rennie says the summer months bring in the most customers. Then there are the usual, everyday customers.
"There are some people who come in here every day and get a juice and a smoothie," she says, adding that most have done so since they first opened.
Patronage also comes from local companies and groups, such as Weight Watchers. Since Just Juicin' provides low-fat, high energy creations, their juices and smoothies are ideal for weight groups point systems, Rennie says.
On the wall hangs a photo collage of some customers who have visited the store. Two copies of each photo are made: One for the subject(s) and one for the collage.
"It's a good way to get the community involved," she informs. "It's just a fun thing really."
A Web page for the business is to be finished soon and plans are under way to open another Just Juicin' store possibly after next summer. For now, Rennie says she thinks opening another too soon could make for overexposure.
Rennie says she's sure that almost anything can be cured with the right juice and the proper ingredient mixtures.
"If someone comes in with an ailment, between us and the Root Cellar, we can come up with something."