Here is an article that was first published in Hobokeni.com in 2002.
Review of Re*Juice*a*Nation by Dina
No one knows quite where “smoothies” originated. Smoothie King owner Steve Kuhnau claims to have originated the term for the drink he made up in the early 1970s and first sold at a juice bar in Louisiana. Californians say they made it up and claim you can’t get a good one on the East Coast. One told me about Jamba Juice, which is a popular juice bar on the West Coast. (There’s also one in Jersey.) But–it doesn’t matter where smoothies originated. They are cool, they are refreshing and they are in Hoboken.
Re*Juice*a*Nation is in a perfect spot, across from the New York Sports Club, not far from the pier, and on the way to and from the Path. In fact, I go often on my way to work. I like the store’s black façade with fishbowl-like windows that allow you to peer in at people drinking along the bar. Inside, you’re awakened by bright colors—lime green and magenta. Soulful beats play overhead and calming ocean scenes play on a flat-screened TV on the wall. I slink up to the sleek silver seats at the window and watch as my carrot juice is made. Large, orange carrots sit in the silver bins in the back along with other fresh veggies and fruits and get crushed up to make me breakfast. On days that I need an extra kick, I get the “straight up” carrot juice. I love carrot juice. As my roommate says, “It really gets me going in the morning.” Same for me. And the carrot juice at Re*Juice*a*Nation is really good–fresh and clean. It is one of my favorites—and I’ve tried quite a few things here. The store gives you one of those buy-10-get-one-free cards and mine is nearly all stamped. But the first time I came here, I walked up to the counter and didn’t see the menu to order. That’s because it was behind me, above the seats. It’s a pretty extensive menu–with a few different categories of smoothies—power, berry, tropical, citrus and non-dairy–and a listing of fresh-squeezed juices like the 24K with orange, carrot and banana or the Climax, with apple, carrot and ginger. Boosters can be added to the smoothies and they come in a wide variety, depending on your needs—whether it be more energy, less energy, fat cutting, or sex drive.
I’m a mango nut, so my first time here I tried the Mad Mango, a tropical smoothie made with mango juice, mango chunks, banana and pineapple sherbet. It was very creamy and smooth and had a lot of fruit flavor. Wanting something with less fat and calories, I opted for the Bango on my next visit. The Bango has just mango juice, bananas and mangos. It had a lot of fruit flavor as well and a smoother consistency than the Mad Mango. In fact, I didn’t miss the sherbet at all. In both of these I got a multivitamin booster. Later, I tried the Valdez Breeze made with orange juice, raspberries, strawberries and banana and got a relaxation booster. I wasn’t too crazy about the taste of this one. It had a vitaminy-powdery taste that I blamed on the booster since the drink is nothing but fruit and orange juice.
One morning after trying a refreshing Sunset—apple, carrot and banana juice–I talked to one of the owners, Harout Dermenjian. He and partner Steven Barardo opened the shop four months ago. Both are health nuts and into extreme sports. In fact, they got the idea for Re*Juice*a*Nation while snowboarding in Salt Lake City. “I go snowboarding every winter and visit juice bars,” Dermenjian says. “But when I come back here, there’s none around.” So he made his own—literally. The two partners designed the inside of the store, including the bright colors and flat-screened TV. “I wanted a look that looked like the East Coast—funky,” says Dermenjian. Out West, “tropical”-looking juice bars are a dime a dozen. Dermenjian wanted his Jersey juice bar to have the appropriate vibe.
For the menu, the pair worked with a consulting company to come up with the recipes. Now they have bigger plans: “We’re having diets written up with smoothies that make you feel good and have energy. People are caught up with calories and fat in food. They should be eating a well-balanced diet,” says Dermenjian. To help people do that, the diets—written with the help of a nutritionist and scheduled to arrive by the end of July–will be posted in the store and given as fliers. This is a smart move, being that there is debate today just how “healthy” smoothies are. Depending on the ingredients, some smoothies can be 600 calories and loaded with carbohydrates. If they are made with ingredients like ice cream, whole milk and peanut butter, they can be more fattening than ones made with just juice. At Re*Juice*a*Nation, there is a wide variety of alternatives for the careful eater. Dermenjian mentions that all sherbets and yogurts in the smoothies are organic and all juices are 100 percent juice. In addition, there are lifestyle alternatives like the Soyberry Mctwist made with soymilk. And the “Decadent Delights,” like Dermenjian’s favorite, Peanut Butter Cream, are made with non-fat frozen yogurt.
Other plans in the works: an outdoor café for the summer, and soon, fresh baked goods will be added to the menu. As of now, besides smoothies and juices, Re*Juice*a*Nation has six to eight soups a day and fresh fruit salads as well as nutrition bars.