“You have to be connected to a space in a neighborhood. You have to have daily conversations with your customers.” Vegetarian cookbook author (and former executive chef of Angelica’s) Amy Chaplin agrees: “They expanded so fast, and then it’s hard to pay all that rent. It’s a lot of juice to sell.”
Matthew Kenney has his own theory. “They picked up expensive real estate, and nothing was prepped on site. It ended up being a 7-Eleven for juice, and most of what they sold was available at Whole Foods,” he says. “There were too many people making decisions based on growth and numbers. They missed the market."
Kenney speaks from experience, as he closed down his New York businesses to focus on his cooking schools and restaurants in Maine, California, and Thailand.
The health food industry is difficult, filled with countless hidden fees and hurdles. But interest has never been greater. “It’s really exciting to be a part of change in the food industry,” says Brill. “Food is going to look so different in the next five or ten years.”
Brill goes on to say, “Cleaner food is our future. If you are passionate, jump in. Source the best ingredients. That’s when we will see a shift in the mainstream. ” Becker of The Little Beet echoes the thought: “The more and more people start going this way, the more prices will have to correct themselves. I’m seeing it already.
“More regular grocery stores are offering local, organic, gluten-free aisles. Right now you pay a premium to eat better. But it shouldn’t be that way. As time goes on, we are going to see prices go down.” So either wait till then to launch that vegan sushi business, or take the plunge, scary and ill-advised though it may be, and be part of the solution.
Inspired to follow your dream of launching a healthy restaurant? Read these 10 tips to launching a successful health-food business first.
Cover photo courtesy of Stocksy