Juice Bars Exit for New Fare

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Just four months before a planned move to open a Le Macaron franchise in Laguna Beach, Cyrille Lemoine suffered his first ever injury in 21years as a jet ski and motocross racer.

Joanna Tomasik, who owns Le Macaron with her husband Cyrille Lemoine, greets customers in the newly opened shop. Photo by Jody Tiongco.
Joanna Tomasik, who owns Le Macaron with her husband Cyrille Lemoine, greets customers in the newly opened shop. Photo by Jody Tiongco.

The 39 year-old Frenchman’s resulting broken leg made it necessary for his wife, Joanna Tomasik, to do most of the heavy lifting in preparation for the delayed launch of their business, just before Labor Day, Sept. 5.

Inside the couple’s tiny shop adjacent to the now closed Laguna South Coast Cinema, glass cases keep the macarons and Stephan Treand chocolates at just the right temperature and humidity level. Treand, an award-winning chef, makes the candy in a commercial kitchen in the restaurant-filled SoCo Collection in Costa Mesa. A one-inch square sells for $2.40. A box of six macarons, which are shipped frozen from company headquarters in Florida to the 40 franchises, sells for $12.50. The shop also offers croissants and beverages.

The brightly colored cookies, a meringue and ganache concoction, provide a visual pop against the white tiled background in the store, previously home to Chris Keller’s short-lived Juices and Shakes. Flavors made from recipes created by Le Macaron’s French founders, Rosalie Guillem and daughter Audrey Gulliem-Saba, include lemon cream, black currant and passion mango.

Instead of gelato, which many Le Macaron French Pastries shops carry, Lemoine and Tomasik offer gobs of pink cotton candy spun on site, a reaction to city officials who predicted that another gelato shop in the space would harm current purveyors. They denied a permit to another frozen dessert shop seeking approval in January.

Another new eatery in town also owes its space to juice shop saturation. Hillary Koster opened Boba Me Baby!, a tea bar and waffle shop, in the former home of Nekter Juice Bar on Broadway Avenue. She said she “sailed through” the permitting process with the city and the county health department.

A big, blue neon sign saying “come for the beach- stay for the boba” takes up one wood- and brick-covered wall of the shop, which also offers waffles and savory hand pies along with fruit and milk teas, coffee drinks and acai bowls.

Koster’s idea to open a boba store came in 2011 when she discovered that her kids were driving from their home in Aliso Viejo to Irvine to get boba dinks. After some internet research of recipes and discussions with distributors, she opened the first Boba Me Baby! store in Aliso Viejo.

While her prices are competitive with other boba shops, $4.25 for a 24 ounce drink plus 50 cents for boba, Kester says her brand is different because “we only use a tea leaf once and we offer almond milk and other healthy options” in their drinks.

Urth Caffé, the only other place to offer a boba drink in Laguna, charges $4.50 for a blended drink and 50 cents more for the boba.

When faced with doubled rent upon the expiration of a five-year lease in Aliso Viejo, Koster focused on opening a shop in Laguna. She will re-open in Citywalk at Vantis in Aliso Viejo while daughter Haven Goldstein, 25, will run the Laguna operation.

She said she signed a five-year lease at both locations.

The trend for dedicated juice bar storefronts apparently has a shelf-life little longer than the product itself. Ritual Juicebox, at 1100 S. Coast Highway, closed their raw, organic and cold-pressed juice shop last year. Living Juice, formerly at 384 Forest Ave., also closed its retail shop in early 2015.

Still standing are non-juice dependent businesses, such as the Art of Juicing, within the Art of Fitness gym at 1080 S. Coast Highway, and venerable Laguna institutions The Stand, a health food pioneer, that continues its juice, smoothie and vegan fare, and the Orange Inn.

Also hoping to make a name in Laguna is Jan’s Health Bar, which opened its third location in Boat Canyon next to the new Asada Restaurant.

Jan Gaffney started selling sandwiches and smoothies from George’s Surf Shop in Huntington Beach in 1972. Its menu includes juice, but also sandwiches, salads, soup, vegan dishes and smoothies.

 

 

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