Instead of becoming the popular healthy food destination it set out to be, Organic Avenue seems to be drowning in its juicy ambitions.
According to Racked, the juice bar and vegan food chain has reportedly been bought in a cashless deal.
The shopping site reports that after looking around for a buyer (those who considered purchasing reportedly included Juice Press founder Marcus Antebi), owner Weld North sold to investment firm Vested Capital Partners. But instead of paying cash, Vested purchased it with a stock warrant—meaning that if they can turn the company around and make it profitable, Weld North execs will be able to exercise stock options down the road as their payment. CEO Anthony Tomaro was also let go as part of the deal.
Organic Avenue was created by raw food and juice visionary Denise Mari in her Lower East Side apartment nearly 15 years ago. And after a long period of growth, a handful of buzzy store openings in New York City, and lots of happy customers (including tourists who considered a signature orange OA bag a sign of having visited Manhattan), Weld North acquired it in 2013.
An exec was hired from Pret A Manger to help the brand appeal to a more mainstream consumer, more new stores with an expanded focus on the lunch crowd were opened, and nationwide shipping (with HPP) was introduced.
But according to Racked’s sources, the brand continued to struggle, with only three of ten stores turning profits, leading Organic Avenue to close two locations, lay off lots of employees, and axe other expansion plans.
Does this signal a tough road ahead for other juice brands? Fellow cold-pressed bottle brand Vital Juice went under recently but bigger national brands like Suja are continuing to grow quickly (as are Manhattan faves Juice Press and Juice Generation and West Coast brands like Pressed Juicery, Project Juice, and Juice Served Here). So maybe the new owners will be able to tweak the company’s recipe and find success. If not, you should probably do a drive by for the avocado chocolate mousse, now. —Amy Marturana
For more information, visit www.racked.com