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Roi Shlomo of Kale Me Crazy Talks Organic Juicing, Trends, and Possible Expansion

Kale Me Crazy.
Kale Me Crazy.
Photo: Alexa Lampasona for Eater Atlanta

Juicing is in now, y'all, and Yogli Mogli founder Roi Shlomo brought the concept to Inman Park. The frozen yogurt mogul has been drinking natural, pressed juices almost daily for the past two years, and he's just opened Kale Me Crazy, an all-organic juice bar, on the neighborhood's stretch of North Highland Avenue. Below, Shlomo talks "juicetenders," trends, and the science behind his product.

What's the story behind the name?
Actually, a good friend of mine came up with the name, and I thought, It's too crazy. We tried to think of other names, but we kept coming back to it, so finally I realized I needed to stop fighting it. And I think it will catch. My only worry is that a lot of people don't know what kale is?

Is kale your favorite ingredient?
I use it in every drink I make. Because it's so high in vitamins and low in calories. When you juice it with the right things, the taste is great.

What are those right things?
My idea smoothie has spinach, kale, banana, and green apple.

You follow an all-organic diet and drink juices like these daily. Why?
As a kid it is important to build up your immune system. In Israel, I grew up on an all-organic diet, and I didn't know anyone who had food allergies, but here in America it seems like everyone is allergic to something— gluten, dairy, soy— and a lot of it is driven by GMOs (genetically modified organisms.)

What influenced your decision to open the juice bar?
I realized that it's easy to find organic [food] in your grocery store, but I was struggling with finding an all-organic place when I went out to eat. I created this concept because I wanted somewhere like this for myself.

What can customers expect when they come to Kale Me Crazy?
No matter what they order, it will be healthy. We aren't going to serve genetically modified food. That changes the nutrition. It would defeat the purpose of juicing if we weren't using organic non-GMO produce.

Explain the store's juicing method.
We cold-press everything to retain the most nutrients and enzymes. An ordinary centrifugal juicer heats the fruits and vegetables, which kills some of those essential ingredients. The benefit of a cold-presser limits oxygen exposure so the juices can be stored longer.

When customers order juices, the drinks are served in bottles. How often are they packaged?
Our juices are packed in bottles every morning. It takes two people in the back all day to juice. Its not a factory; we juice until we run out of produce. When we're out of a particular juice, we're out. It will be good because for those consuming juice daily, you don't want to drink the same thing every day. You want to change colors, ingredients.

How did you come up with the other recipes?
Two years of trial and error. All the juices we serve are ones I have juiced myself. I also hired a nutritionist who helped us with the nutritional values for all the menu items.

Do you plan to partner with local farmers markets for your juicing ingredients?
We want to get as much local as possible, but some things just don't grow in Georgia. We will be getting some produce from Florida and North Carolina, and all the farms we source from are USDA organic. Our juices will also change seasonally based on what's available. It is tough, because when you follow organic growers, you have limited options.

I see you've got a little garden growing too.
We're going to try to grow some of our own [produce] as well as a fun experiment. Right now we've got a fresh peach tree and lots of parsley. We go through parsley like crazy every day. Ironically, we can't grow kale, because we would need like an acre of land.

What made you choose Inman Park?
I love this area. People here get the concept. The community has been very supportive, even before the juice bar opened. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback.

Talk a little about the space.
I wanted to create an organic juice bar with a social atmosphere— music, low lighting, and barstools. Instead of bartenders we have "juicetenders," and the hope is for customers to come in with a group of friends and hang out at the bar. Instead of ordering alcohol, you're sipping on a juice or smoothie. Our juicetenders will help them choose what's best for their diet. It will be a wellness hangout spot.

You also sell shots.
Our ginger shot is intense. Pure ginger, great to clear you out if you have a cold. It is strong. Another one has cayenne pepper. Shots are geared to be a concentration of nutrients. Minus the hangover. Although we do have some that will help with that.

Yogli Mogli became quite successful; there are 25 stores in 4 states. How will you use that success with Kale Me Crazy?
I really want to make this concept perfect. I want to work on perfecting the menu first. I don't like to set goals that would force the business to expand too quickly. I want to grow, but I want to do it slow, be safe and smart. I like to control the pace.

Are there any plans to expand?
We are looking into several neighborhoods for a second location right now, but nothing is set quite yet. We want to focus on the Inman Park bar first.

Do you see the frozen yogurt trend as staying around, or do you feel like juice bars could send them out?
I think the trend is slowing down, but it's still steady. Now, the market has leveled out, and the stores that are in business are the ones that will stay. Some just opened at the wrong time or in the wrong area. But I think juicing is separate; frozen yogurt is a treat whereas juice is part of your daily diet.

What makes the juice trend so appealing?
It is impossible to get the same the amount of vitamins and minerals that you can get from one juice any other way. You'd have to eat so many fruits and vegetables. A lot of people are on the go and don't have the time, so it makes a convenient and healthy breakfast or snack option. A lot of people turn to juicing because it gives your body a treat, whether it's natural energy or nutrients.
—Alexa Lampasona
· Kale Me Crazy [Official Site]
· All Kale Me Crazy Coverage [-EATL-]

Kale Me Crazy

300 N. Highland Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA

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