Juice bar pioneer Liquiteria, the East Village landmark libation hub, hinted at a major expansion last year. But now, the plan is a reality. The indie brand will open locations in Chelsea in July and in Union Square in September, both of which will include a new food menu. And the company is setting its sights on opening in “new markets” in 2014.
The company first opened the doors to its tiny space in 1996, and it started cold-pressing its popular juices in the back 10 years ago, long before it was en vogue. Since then, Liquiteria’s been the in-the-know place where downtown artists wait in line next to Alec and Hilaria Baldwin and Russell Simmons without batting an eyelid.
While newer juice brands have rushed towards green-juice domination—Organic Avenue was sold to an investment company for expansion, Juice Press opens in a new New York neighborhood every day, and BluePrint has been spreading its products across the country—Liquiteria has continued to cold-press on rather quietly.
But a change in ownership prompted big changes, and the new team brought on hospitality guru Mark Wood to lead them into the next juicing era. Wood, now CEO, has a long career of opening and growing restaurants, from China Grill to Tavern on the Green. He also knows the health and fitness space—he was an Equinox regional director and even consulted for BluePrint.
“We see the time is right, and the risk is negative,” Wood says, “because healthy living and good nutrition is not a unique concept anymore, it’s a broad market idea.” Here’s what his big expansion plan for Liquiteria looks like and how it’ll affect the juice landscape:
Branding the Bottle
The juice bottles have a new logo, colors, and a clean design that really makes you want to get your hands on one. The website reflects the change, too.
Two New Manhattan Locations
The Chelsea location will open in July at 102 Eighth Avenue, at 15th Street. It’s 2,500 square feet, which is more than four times the size of Liquiteria’s East Village kitchen and store combined. So, all the juicing will take place here.
The Union Square Liquiteria location will debut in September at 26 East 17th Street, at 1,000 square feet. Both locations will have stools around the perimeter (but no cafe seating) and will retain the look and feel of the original. “We made a few modern modifications, but overall, it’s going to feel like Liquiteria,” says Wood.
These two openings are just the beginning. “We’re embarking on a national roll out,” he says, with plans to debut outside New York in 2014.
Would You Like Something to Eat with That?
Food options at Liquiteria have been seriously limited, but a new grab-and-go menu will change that. The new items will be organic, gluten-free, and dairy-free, but not all vegetarian or raw. You can expect breakfast items like coconut yogurt, quinoa dishes, salmon and curry chicken salads, and snacks like chia pudding. The menu will be immediately available at the new stores and will likely be expanded to the East Village location down the line. The brand just has to create space for it, which may be possible after it moves its juicing operations to Chelsea.
Of course, as Liquiteria continues to grow, the challenge will be retaining its signature sense of cool while becoming a major player on a larger scale. “That’s my primary focus—keeping the culture,” says Wood, who says he’s implemented an intensive staff development program for that very reason. “It is so much fun to go to Liquiteria, and that’s the most important thing. We don’t want to lose that flavor.” —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit liquiteria.com