- Arianna Auber American-Statesman Staff
Danielle Sobel is the first to admit that she doesn’t shy away from eating pizza, cupcakes or other foods that aren’t so good for you.
But she supplements them with the cold-pressed juices that she’s made as the owner and founder of Juice Society, which recently opened a brick-and-mortar location in the bustling Lamar Union development. The 14 juices, sold in glass bottles and made with all organic ingredients like apple, lemon and turmeric, offer various health benefits and claim to help with everything from lessening hangovers to boosting the immune system.
Juicing turned Sobel’s life around a few years ago, when she was tired of treating chronic migraines and eczema with pills and creams. Although drinking these concoctions of herbs, fruits and vegetables was only a step in her road toward healing, she became passionate about sharing them with others and moved to Austin with her fiance, Evan Caron, specifically to start Juice Society.
Originally, her business was a one-woman show. She’d create new recipes in her kitchen, taste test them with the help of Caron and bring them to the SFC Farmers’ Market to sell. Opening a shop, however, was a goal from the beginning.
“That was always the vision, to have a brick and mortar,” she says.
Also important to her at the onset was something that has become a primary tenet of Juice Society: creating an experience beyond the juices. She had noticed as a newcomer to juicing that many of the juice bars she visited lacked the sense of community she sought.
“I wanted to create a space that was focused on not only high-quality products, but also on community. A place where you can come chill,” she says. “It’s kind of flipping what juice bars typically are now, which is a quick grab-and-go situation, and turning it more into a coffee shop and cafe. My goal with Juice Society is to center it more around bringing people into the shop and doing things besides just serving juice and going. It’s much more of an experience.”
To that end, she’s already hosted yoga classes, a run club and a private event featuring Juice Society juices in cocktails. She and the Juice Society team regularly come up with alcoholic drinks using the juices and are hoping to introduce the juices to area bars.
Their creations include a margarita using SunDaze, a mixture of pineapple, purified water, apple and mint, and a whiskey drink using the Foundation, full of apple, lemon and extra ginger.
Combining the juices with alcohol might not seem aligned with the health-centric motto of a juice bar, but that’s another area where Sobel doesn’t want to be typical.
“I think if you have it in your head that you should only eat a certain way or drink a certain way, or you have to be vegan or you have to be raw, that’s not mentally healthy and holding you to a standard that you can’t meet,” she says. “We never talk about weight loss or eating a certain way or telling you that you have to do things this way or that. For us, it’s about incorporating juices into your day and being a little more mindful about what you’re eating and drinking.”
Plus, she says, juices are far more versatile than as daytime beverages. They’re often associated with cleanses — with taking away less beneficial aspects of your life — but Juice Society hopes to make juices “more about addition.” Introduce them into your nightlife, she says.
“It’s not about not being healthy, but I think it’s about having balance in your life,” she says. “I’m very open about the fact that I eat pizza, and I go out and I drink. I also drink these juices every day.”
Her favorite of the Juice Society options right now is the General, which contains a bounty of greens: kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, dandelion greens, romaine and parsley. (These are offset with the addition of lemon, ginger and Himalayan salt.) It’s packed with a lot of nutrients, but it might be too much for some people.
Other current favorites of hers are less polarizing. She recommends the Golden Girl, with carrot, orange and turmeric, for its anti-inflammatory elements, and the Zest, a hydrating combination of green apple, pear, celery, spinach and lime.
Whichever one you choose, you’ll probably feel compelled to sip on it while you lounge in the sitting area at Juice Society. The room has been designed with a look that Sobel calls “modern and minimal, with a touch of urban jungle,” thanks to the contrasting elements of wood and concrete — and the striking, sparsely spaced plants that hang on one of the stark white walls. The design could be straight out of Los Angeles or New York, where she and Caron are from.
How fortunate she is to have opened her own business at the age of 26 is not lost on her. The past year has been a series of ups and downs, doubts and hope, but it’s been a ride, she says, that on some level she was meant to take.
“There were so many times where I would wake up asking myself whether I could really do this,” she says. “Doubt always creeps in, especially when you’re doing the business all by yourself for eight months. … But every time I had doubts, I would get an email or a customer would come up to me at the farmers market, saying how much the juices were helping. That would restore the hope.”