Feeling healthy is all about drinking healthy

MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Malikha Washington is beginning to bottle the drinks she makes at her juice bar to sell at co-ops.
MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Malikha Washington is beginning to bottle the drinks she makes at her juice bar to sell at co-ops.
Posted: July 15, 2014

 MALIKHA Washington, 40, of Elkins Park, is owner of The Juice Room on Germantown Avenue in Mount Airy. The juice bar serves freshly made raw vegetable juices and real-fruit smoothies, and also offers homemade soups and salads. The eclectic space features furniture from an old Jimmy Buffett restaurant Washington acquired as well as her own artwork.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for a juice bar?

A: My mother was diagnosed with cancer and she did a round of chemo that nearly killed her. We chose a dietary protocol, part of which was daily juicing with fresh vegetables. When we went out we couldn't find many natural juice bars, so juicing felt like a good fit.

Q: How much money did you have to come up with?

A: I had a $30,000 loan from my mother and bought a lot of used equipment. We sanded the floor here and and painted the place. It was a vacant food store.

Q: There are other juice bars in the city. What's special?

A: Everything is natural, all-fresh ingredients. I try to buy as much ingredients from my local co-op or other co-ops [as] I can. If I could, everything would be organic and locally sourced but we're trying to keep costs in line and also grow the business.

Q: The popular flavors?

A: We sell 500 made-to-order drinks per week. The green smoothie is by far the most popular thing we sell, which is spinach, kale, banana, mango and honey.

Q: Your customers?

A: The customer base is like Mount Airy in that it's a big melting pot. Some come for a good smoothie, others come because they have a health condition and want a natural drink.

Q: How big a biz is this?

A: My brother works with me part time and he's really a partner. He's trying to help me implement some ideas to go forward and he's been making pita and hummus in the kitchen. We make everything here. I have two other part-time employees.

Q: How's revenue shake out?

A: Smoothies and juices make up most of it. The green smoothies alone are about 25 percent of what we sell. The rest is divided between smoothies and juices mostly; plus soups and a little pita, hummus and some snacks. Last year, we did $70,000 in revenue. I'd love $100,000 this year.

Q: Biggest challenge?

A: Right now it's keeping our old refrigerators running. Staying on top of finances is another since I don't have a business background and put together a business plan after the fact.

Q: What's next?

A: We started bottling juices and I bought a cold-press juicer. We'll be selling them at both Weavers Way co-ops and see how they move. I also sell bottled smoothies on the Foolish Waffles food truck. We also want to do catering for businesses and explore other food options here.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

comments powered by Disqus