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Pret a Manger’s former president to give Organic Avenue a makeover


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(Photo: Organic Avenue)

Organic Avenue is about to get a more mainstream makeover, according to a New York Times article published earlier this week.

The NYC-based raw food and juice chain founded by devout vegan and raw-foodist Denise Mari has hired Martin Bates, who is credited with turning around Pret-a-Manger’s business operations in the U.S. (Mari is no longer involved in day-to-day operations, having sold a controlling stake in the company to private equity firm Weld North.)

Bates’ mission, when he joins the company in June, is to expand the reach of Organic Avenue by helping the healthy lifestyle brand appeal to customers who don’t already blend kale in smoothies for breakfast. The company hopes to capitalize on both the juice craze and the healthy vegan food to-go trends—according to a survey cited in the article, 33% of Americans are now eating flexitarian more often.

Also, expect to find Organic Avenue products more widely available. “We are in the very late stages of forming partnerships with gyms and fitness clubs, which have a big interest in our products, but we’re also looking to put Organic Avenue into high-end retailers,” Weld North’s founder Jonathan Grayer told the New York Times.

Purist fans of the all-organic, all-raw brand wonder if the expansion will ultimately help spread the gospel of healthy, vegan food, or if the quality of the products will be compromised. Tellingly, the company also recently launched its first non-raw offering, the cooked Quinoa Bowl. Sales, according to Jonathan Grayer, have “been crazy.”

No word yet on whether you’ll be able to get lunch there for less than $15 any time soon. —Carla Vass

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