A couple of weeks ago, while I was in New York City, I was headed to one of my old standby restaurants, Santa Fe, on the upper West Side and came across the construction of a soon-to-open Joe & The Juice. This is a chain from Denmark that you should be watching. Its approach is a bit different: Yes, the food is important. It specializes in fresh, but the ambiance is its magic.
Its staff selection and training are focused on upbeat conversation and an energy that's all about relating to customers. And its music is about as far from snoozy Muzac as you can find anywhere. Joe & The Juice is all about the holistic experience. There's even a free photo booth.
Kaspar Basse, the founder and drive behind the chain, is a former professional karate champion from Denmark; he wants the chain to become the “go-to place for health-conscious people who like their fresh-pressed juice served with a side of edgy." He says hiring the right people "brings such a unique culture and environment," and that they're encouraged to be themselves in how they dress and talk, and even to play their own music while bringing their personalities to work. They aren’t hired, they're “cast,” just as an actor might be, and they're given social, personal and physical tests ranging from how fast they can work to how well they can banter with customers.
Joe & The Juice's offerings include coffee; tea; sandwiches; fresh juices, of course; smoothies; and veggie shots made with organic ingredients, all prepared in the store. There are juices like "Hangover Heaven" (made of apple, elderflower and mint); "Go Away Doc" (carrot, apple and ginger); and "Sex Me Up" (passion fruit, apple and ginger).
Why should you be watching Joe & The Juice? They have more than 170 locations in 14 countries. There are new U.S. stores in San Francisco, New York City and Miami, with a few hundred more slated to open in the United States very soon. It's a great concept, and one that upermarkets, especially those with grocerants, might want to check out.