It all began as a business on wheels.
Lifelong friends Zach Berman and Ryan Slater launched The Juice Truck in 2011 and at the time it was the first cold pressed juice bar in Canada.
Subsequently, The Juice Truck has rolled out three storefronts in Vancouver. The first location opened in 2014 on West 5th Avenue between Manitoba and Ontario Streets. The site also houses the company’s production factory where cold pressed juice is bottled and food is produced for all of their stores. Two other Vancouver locations followed (on Main Street and in Yaletown), along with a smoothie cart in the heart of the city at Burrard and Robson Streets. They also sell bottled cold pressed juice at over 30 retail partners across Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.
Zach and Ryan had a vision to open a Juice Truck café in their hometown. Their dream became reality in December 2017 when they opened on First Avenue.
Both Zach and Ryan grew up in Steveston. They met in grade 5 while playing soccer for the Central Richmond Ravens. Both graduated from Steveston Secondary in 2004.
After graduating from university they took a year off to backpack through Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. While in Nepal they noticed that locals were drinking an orange beverage.
Zach says, “We discovered it was juice from the Seabuckthorn berry. The locals depend on this berry that grows at high altitudes for many of their daily nutrients. This sparked an idea. As we travelled, it became our mission to seek out what the local communities were turning to for their natural health and wellness.”
He adds, “In India we got into the Ayurvedic practices and juice. Wherever we were, we would go find the local juice cart. It became our daily ritual to start our day with juice, much like one turns to coffee back home.”
A year later when they returned to Canada they decided to turn their passion into a business and created The Juice Truck.
Both partners grew up around small businesses. Zach’s father Joel Berman had an architectural glass studio called Joel Berman Glass Studios and Ryan’s father, Alan Slater, operated Playboard Magazine, Vancouver’s oldest performing arts publication.
“It seemed second nature that one day we would start our own business,” Zach says.
Zach comments, “It’s a full circle story, as we’re close family friends with Joy Stewart who originally opened Alegria Café and my mom, Sandy Postl, worked for years at the café. It was a special place. It was always very welcoming with warm food and good company.”
“When the space became available, we wanted to continue the tradition of offering healthy food in an inviting space that always felt like home. The courtyard in the back always felt magical. We saw the potential to create a sanctuary where you could find some quiet, share some good food and good company,” he adds.
“When we took the leap from truck to café, we grew our offering from juice and smoothies into a plant based café; offering bowls, salads, treats, coffee and plant based grocery items.” Zach Berman
From day one their business has been community driven.
Zach explains, “We got this inspiration from our Steveston roots; from community centre events to markets, everything in Steveston revolves around community and we wanted to bring that value to how we run our business. We’re regularly hosting pop up dinners, nutrition talks, vegan pop ups, movie nights, mom and baby events and much more. We’re a community driven business that happens to sell juice, smoothies and plant based food.”
What makes The Juice Truck stand out?
“We’re always evolving and growing. We started as juice and smoothies and have grown into a full café offering food from daily hot features, to take out salads, bowls and treats, juice cold pressed fresh per order (we’re one of the only companies in the world to do this), to bottled juices to grab and go, to our retail section of supplements and grocery, to our coffee and tea program. Our goal is to offer products for everyone, from seasoned health and wellness warriors to someone who is trying to incorporate some green juice into their life for the first time. Our kitchen team is full of nutritionists and Red Seal chefs, creating food that is both nutritious and full of flavour,” Zach remarks.
The Juice Truck sources as much organic and local produce as possible while maintaining a price that is fair and reasonable for their customers. Most of their food is gluten free. The juice is raw, cold pressed and unpasteurized and as a result only has a three-day shelf life.
Zach says, “It’s always good to add more plants into your life, whether you’re vegan, doing some meatless Mondays or whatever your diet may be. Our food is made from plant based, whole grain foods which are all rich in nutrients and vitamins. Our offerings are packed with fibre, protein and antioxidants. Whether you’re accommodating a busy active life, training in athletics, trying to find a healthy and happy body weight, our juice, smoothies and food all have options that can compliment those lifestyles.”
His current favourite smoothie is The Mint Chip. Also popular are The Green Protein and Almost Chocolate smoothies. Deep Green and Remedy are two of their top selling juices.
Zach mentions, “Our almond butter and peanut butter cups are by far our most popular treats and our Macro Bowl and Almost Poke Bowl are our top bowls. In retail we sell a lot of vegan ice cream.“
The new spring menu will be introduced in April. This summer The Juice Truck will host a vegan BBQ in the courtyard.
Other exciting initiatives for this young company include the publication of a book with Penguin Random House, “The Juice Truck: A Guide to Juicing, Smoothies, Cleanses and Living a Plant-Based Lifestyle.” It features their recipes, their story and their values.
With a smile, Zach says, “If you ever want to open a juice bar, all of our secrets are here.”
Awards and accolades are plentiful. The Georgia Straight Best of Vancouver Awards and Golden Plate Awards have named the Juice Truck Best Juice Bar for seven consecutive years. Conde Nast Traveller named the business one of the Best Juice Bars in the world. Their Juice Cleanse has been featured on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop, and on the Food Network’s show Eat Street.
Zach’s wife Meghan works with the company; she also grew up in Steveston. Lauren Ho, director of operations, is one of their closest childhood friends from Steveston.
“We’ve hired friends and family and grown that way. It may be the opposite of what a lot of businesses do, but it makes our day to day so much fun,” Zach says.
He concludes, “We have many regular customers. We’ve become friends with them. It is because of them that The Juice Truck exists, and we’ve been able to grow, employ staff and offer health and wellness to the community.”
The Juice Truck
12151 First Avenue, Richmond, BC V7E 3M1