Kendra Johnson, founder and owner of the Juice Mill, sat with Opinion Editor, Nick Jordan, and I outside of the new shop where the sun shines brighter, and the juice is greener on the other side of the square. As we sat outside, smiling faces were stopping on their way in to say hello to Kendra, who has established an incredible connection with the Bridgewater community whether they be humans and four legged friends (locally made treats are available for the bow-wows.) Hearing the story of how she made her dream come to life was equally as charming as the antique chic interior that makes the store so loved and well, Insta-worthy.
Kendra was spending her summer going into senior year of college the way most students do, putting in hours at an internship. But for the other half of her time, she spent it at a juice bar where she enjoyed going for its lighter, more upbeat atmosphere after her days at the courthouse working with a judge. A few weeks after she graduated with her degree in criminal justice, Kendra realized what would truly make her happy: starting her own small business. She was nervous to break the news to her parents that she no longer had any desire to pursue a career in the major she just graduated with. She overcame these nerves and went to her best friend, her mom. Right away, she fully supported her idea and advised her to propose a formal business plan to present to her dad at dinner that night.
From there on out her mom and dad, each of them owners of businesses themselves, gave her their full support and helped guide her through the whole process. They admired her aspirations to provide a community with fast, fresh, and healthy food options. “Now I have my dad shooting back wheatgrass shots and my mom drinking smoothies and juices daily. It’s a dream come true!” Kendra told us.
We talked about how limited the healthy options are in this area and how being the only health-oriented kitchen means managing a high demand. “When I opened, I was 22, I had no staff and I was like, ‘Dad, I can run this all by myself.” But her expectations for customer turnout were far too modest. Right off the bat, business was booming. Upon seeing this, she began hiring staff until she had a full-on crew. They have helped her handle the overwhelming positive support from the tight knit community of customers who are lining up to get the squeeze on the Juice Mill. “I hired a manager this year, Miranda, a.k.a. the hippie. She’s been my life savior.”
Along with its focus on an availability of nutritious options comes an equally important focus on affordability, which was one of Kendra’s top priorities in creating the menu. As a small business owner, she makes her prices as low as she possibly can so that more people can afford healthy meals. Kendra works with local farmers to ensure that all of her menu items are locally sourced and support a fair-trade supply chain.
Future plans for the Juice Mill include more pop-up yoga classes, more juices, and offering the option of making any of their signature paninis available as a salad as well as adding fresh, locally sourced eggs to avocado toast or grain bowls. Like they did at their old location, juice cleanses will soon be promoted, as well as grab and go press juices stocked cold in the fridge. And for you Wednesday night Greyhound goers, you’re going to want to look out for the “Hangover juice” to get you through your Thursday 8:00 a.m.