By Maureen Werther
Christel and Colin MacLean are not ones to wait for opportunity to knock on their door. The success of their newest business venture, Saratoga Juice Bar, shows their strength as an entrepreneurial team.
The area first got to know the MacLeans as restaurant owners. Christel was living in Manhattan and working on Wall Street when she had a serendipitous encounter with Auntie Moseley, the famous owner of Hattie’s in Saratoga Springs. A year later, Christel became the owner of Hattie’s. Together with Colin, they remained true to the vision and legacy of Hattie’s.
Over a 20 year span they sold Hattie’s and opened Circus Café on Broadway in Saratoga Springs. They also started a “boutique” realty company, purchased and helped revamp Sperry’s restaurant in Saratoga Springs, then opened a new restaurant, the Crowne Grille.
Soon thereafter, they introduced the community to Saratoga Juice Bar, just a few doors down from Circus Café.
Christel calls it another instance of Saratoga serendipity. She and Colin had just completed the purchase of the Crowne Grill and were absorbed in getting that restaurant running, when, to their surprise, the storefront a few doors down suddenly became available.
“I went to Colin and said, ‘Guess what?’ We’re going to open a juice bar,'” she said.
Both Colin and Christel know how to evaluate trends and analyze markets to detect future opportunities. "We are always looking for ways to do something better or finding the next best thing," said Christel.
"We went to LA and New York City to study under master juicers and develop our business model for the Juice Bar," said Colin. He and Christel both do the rigorous work that is critical to the success of any project. "Our goal is to do it one time … the right way," he said.
"Our juices are produced through a cold and raw process that retains 100 percent of all the vitamins, minerals, and live enzymes of natural whole foods," he said.
He said each container of juice contains approximately five pounds of vegetables and fruits. Utilizing hydraulic extraction in a cold environment and never subjecting the product to heat differentiates their "ultra-premium" juices from others on the market that are classified as "premium."
Three years after opening the storefront on Broadway, Saratoga Juice Bar company has launched a wholesale division, with its e-commerce platform poised to begin operations in the near future.
Saratoga Juice Bar products are now being produced at an Edison, N.J., facility that produces approximately 20,000 bottles of juice every few weeks, with orders expected to increase dramatically once the e-commerce platform is off and running, according to the MacLeans.
Christel and Colin's juices can now be found in over 100 independent grocery and specialty markets throughout New England and more than 35 specialty markets, coffee shops, and wellness centers in the Saratoga/Albany region.
Locally, Saratoga Juice Bar products can be found in Whole Foods, Hannaford, ShopRite, Healthy Living Market, and others.
The pair has also formed a relationship with PeaPod home delivery service in New York City and the surrounding area. They plan to expand into Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
After a recent visit to a co-packer on the West Coast to perform production trials, the product caught the attention of a fitness center in Los Angeles, which purchased all the juice from the production run.
"This West Coast feedback meant a lot to us," said Christel, who noted that the whole juice industry originated there.
Christel and Colin's drive and their shared passion for excellence comes from their need to live every day to the fullest and enjoy the freedom and flexibility in their lifestyle. This is especially important when it comes to their 12-year-old daughter, Lucy.
The MacLeans juggle the responsibilities of running multiple companies and raising their daughter and take it take all in stride. Christel said her experiences on Wall Street may have prepared her for this, while Colin noted his background in the world of theatrical production makes their current routines seem calm in comparison.