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A Drink For Your Health

By Andrea Primer, Special to the Independent

 

Juicer Richie Gebhard, of La Habra, and Newport Beach’s Rachel Turney, Nekter’s store operations vice president, ready the Laguna shop for opening on Friday, Jan. 25. Photo by Matt Cole

Juicer Richie Gebhard, of La Habra, and Newport Beach’s Rachel Turney, Nekter’s store operations vice president, ready the Laguna shop for opening on Friday, Jan. 25. Photo by Matt Cole

Juicing, a dietary trend gaining popularity in recent years, has attracted fruit-blending entrepreneurs to Laguna Beach for some time, and Nekter is the newest to join the bunch, opening its newest store Friday, Jan. 25 at 272 Broadway St.

Owners Steve and Alexis Schulze started Nekter Juice Bar in 2010 in Costa Mesa, offering a variety of all-natural, raw, vegan juices and smoothies, along with snacks, acai bowls and their own one to five day cleanse programs. Over the past two years, the owners have expanded with additional juice bars in Orange and Los Angeles counties. Laguna Beach marks their 10th location.

“Nekter juices have replaced my need for coffee,” Aliso Viejo resident Ghazal Ghaysar, a customer of Nekter’s Dana Point location, said Tuesday. “I used to be in the habit of drinking different drinks from different coffee shops, but since I was introduced to juices it has completely replaced that habit. I like [the juices] a lot better because they actually benefit my health, something I did not get with coffee.”

Personal trainer and Costa Mesa resident Jeffrey Donald Morgan got turned on to Nekter by the founder of the company, and has been a faithful customer ever since. Morgan is a regular at the Costa Mesa Nekter, ordering an acai bowl every morning and a 16-ounce, $4.75 juice or smoothie in the afternoons. He also tried the one-day $55 detox, where he restricted his diet to six special elixirs for 24 hours. He felt a little weak during the day, he said, but liked that his body was releasing toxins.

The existing Nekter locations have their own charm. With a simple, contemporary layout and enthusiastic employees, their stores buzz with the sound of blenders and the chatter of customers.

While juicing may be a new trend, many Laguna Beach residents are already familiar with this option.

Living Juice’s founding president and local resident Jamie Jensen provides a series of different juice combinations and cleanses, and has been educating local customers for about a year on the benefits of juice. A five-person Living Juice team sets up at Laguna’s farmers market each Saturday spreading their knowledge. The Living Juice team makes cold-pressed, raw, vegan and always organic juices, something that sets them apart from competitors

Jensen shrugs off the prospects of competition. She created the Living Juice brand by talking to nutritionists as well as doctors to understand the nutritional value of extracting juice from fruits and vegetables. Her company offers not only different drinks but also strives to be health advocates to their customers.

When a new customer comes to Jensen, she tries to assess their nutritional needs, and caters juices that are personal to each customer.

One main difference between Living Juice and competitors, she says, is her team strives to produce juices derived entirely from all-organic produce.

In order to be labeled organic, the federal Food and Drug Administration requires that crops must be grown without using synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes, or sewage-sludge or petroleum-based fertilizers.

And Living Juice plans to expand from their current one-kitchen location to a storefront in Laguna on Forest Avenue next month. It too will offer juice cleanses created for different customer needs as well as 16 juices made fresh daily such as pungent Heart of Gold, a mix of tomato, spinach, sea salt, olive oil and cayenne, priced at $8.50 for 17 ounces.

Avid juicers and new customers alike can find an array of juicing options in town, whether from the newcomer Nekter Juice Bar or a locals-only spot like The Stand on  Thalia Street.

 

Indy intern Andrea Primer attends UC Irvine.

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