Capitol Hill food+drink | Juicebox squeezes new opportunity from bottled biz – Plus, Pike Pine Diner

(Images: Michael van Baker for CHS)

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  • It’s not the only model, but here’s one circle of life you’ll see in the wilds of the Capitol Hill food+drink economy: Broadway Farmers Market > pop-up > brick and mortar. For Juicebox, the farmers market-born fresh-squeezed juicery start-up currently popping up every morning inside La Bete, you can add a growing swirl of a sidetrip.

“It’s funny. You write a business plan and it’s not how it goes at all. Now we are constantly tweaking our plan,” Juicebox’s Kari Brunson (pictured, right) tells CHS about the growing success of the operation’s cold-pressed production.

Brunson said the plan still very much remains to open a brick and mortar location somewhere in the city by the end of the year as the summer market season winds down. She won’t say if that will mean a Juicebox on Capitol Hill but given current activities and centers of operation, we’d guess the Hill is a pretty good candidate.

In the meantime, Brunson and Brandin Myett (handling the bar above) have their sticky hands full scaling up a component of the juice business they hadn’t really counted on.

“It’s just wild,” Brunson said, “more than 50% of our business — We’re currently in the process of hiring more people to handle it.”

At the core of this juicy new opportunity was the decision to purchase a Norwalk cold-press juicer. The process — which “never introduces oxygen,” Brunson said — allows Juicebox to bottle their creations and offer the juice to a growing universe of interested consumers.

Currently, Broadway’s Lab 5 Fitness has the first installation of a Juicebox ‘fridge. Customers can grab a juice or three after a workout. But anybody can stop whenever the gym is open to grab something fresh to drink. Juicebox is also looking for a partner to handle even larger scale distribution.

“Now we have nationwide ambitions,” Brunson said.

Like neighborhood news, raw juice is one of those defensible business zones where giants have a difficult time scaling down. Starbucks very well could be opening one of its Evolution Fresh outlets in its new space being built out at Pike and Broadway but Brunson said the giant won’t be able to offer truly raw juice given its dependency on a high-pressure pasteurization method that eliminates the risk and, some say, many of the benefits of raw juice.

Still, the start-up isn’t taking any swings at the global giant. “What Howard Schultz has done for the juicing industry is good for me,” Brunson said. Other players in the space like 15th and Madison’s Healeo  would likely agree.

In the meantime, Brunson said the mission is to continue to mature the cold-press business while learning, innovating and serving customers with the ongoing La Bete pop-up and brunches.

Whether it is part of the 2013 Capitol Hill bars and restaurants to look forward to or located elsewhere in the city, Juicebox’s coming cafe will serve juice, yes, but also offer food created in the spirit of the company’s dedication to fresh and raw nutrition.

The Juicebox-La Bete combination has helped the plan grow into reality, Brunson said.

 “We’re really proud of where we’ve come from,” she said.

You can learn more at

A few weeks ago, we hired on Sully McGinnis as our new full-time head chef.  You might know Sully from his cheesemonger fame or from the Kitchen Sink Project.  Sully is a perfect fit for the POCO kitchen, and not just because of our shared love of cheese (although granted, the mac & cheese has never been better.) 

Late last year, we realized that we had to take the food menu at POCO wine + spirits in a new direction. Because the truth is, we’re not a restaurant. We’re all about the gourmet, the small pleasures, exciting the palate, but not a sit-down three-course meal. So our goal became to focus on “four-bite dishes”, smaller offerings that are served as they are ready in the kitchen.  They can be combined together to make a filling meal if that’s what you’re after, or just enjoyed on their own with your wine or cocktail. We’re not specifically labeling it “tapas”, but it’s certainly in that spirit. 

That’s where Sully is such a great fit for us.  He completely agrees that sitting as we do, surrounded by gourmet restaurants with more on the way, we can offer a sample of what you’ll get elsewhere. The same superior quality in a smaller, more affordable, and more casual experience. The menu shift is a work-in-progress; we have maybe a half-dozen new dishes from Sully on there now, with the next batch being rolled out a week from tonight.  Hopefully our neighbors will see that they can choose a vegetable/protein/starch and build a dinner, or just extend their glass of wine with some excellent pastry bites or (of course) some fantastic cheese.

Nelson does note that the Sully era at Poco will likely be a short one. “We may not have Sully for long (he’s talking of shifting full-time to the Kitchen Sink Project this summer),” Nelson writes. “But it’s great to have such a strong name in the food industry helping to anchor POCO as a small-bite player in a field of big-name restaurants.”

  • @grynch206 is getting full at (CHS people’s choice for top 2013 restaurant) 8oz Burger Bar:

We here at Highline are proud to announce the grand opening of our remodeled restroom! To celebrate the new floor and toilet we’ll have $3 off all pitchers pitchers all day and night. 

  • We like this nerd’s style! Getting all analytical, where does Capitol Hill rank in his best Seattle neighborhoods for espresso 2012 list? #2 — thanks to help from the Central District’s Tougo and Cortona. Dataset also shows price is inversely correlated with quality and the best day of the week to have a shot pulled is Friday.
  • And, hey, what’s this? Progress at Pike Pine Diner, Jason Lajeunese and Dave Meinert’s still-planned-to-be 24-hour diner on 10th Ave:

    (Image: Doug McLaughlin for CHS)


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