Wednesday, May 6, 2020
A visit to Juicy Lucy on Avenue A
Text and photos by Stacie Joy
Rene Henricks, owner for the past 23 years of Juicy Lucy’s Juice Bar, appears slightly frazzled but still happy to see me when I show up to take some pictures and ask questions about the business.
She’s concerned about her employees and when she can bring them back to work at her two outposts — 72 E. First St. at First Avenue and 85 Avenue A between Fifth Street and Sixth Street.
For now, just the Avenue A location is open, where Henricks is every day making juices, smoothies, acai bowls and coffee drinks. There are also prepared and healthy snacks to go. I quickly try to get my questions and photos in, mindful of any patrons — spaced 6 feet apart outside — waiting to order.
What changes have you had to make since the new COVID-19 regulations went into place?
Besides not having a staff, you mean? For their protection and because they have families, it’s not safe for them. I had to close one location and now only have the Avenue A store open. God forbid, I can’t expose my staff to this virus.
Other changes? People are being a lot more patient, they are more polite. The masks, the plastics and the shields. And all that. The produce prices have also gone way up, I have seen that, and I am hoping they are going to level out soon.
What are the most popular items people are ordering now? How, if at all, has that changed from before this health crisis?
Watermelon juice, which is now in season. Celery juice. Wheatgrass shots, ginger shots, and green juices. I can’t make enough cold-pressed juices to fill demand. As soon as I fill the fridge it’s empty. People are buying in bulk. Some people come and buy a week’s worth of juice at a time. Because my store is so small, I don’t have room for things to sit, so everything is fresh.
Do you have any recommendations for what folks can eat or drink to help boost immunity and remain healthy?
Wheatgrass. The chlorophyll is healing — it’s really a miracle juice. Also, fresh-squeeze orange juice, plenty of Vitamin C. I sell that by the quart and you can get a dollar off if you bring the bottle back.
I know the neighborhood is grateful Juicy Lucy’s is open during this stressful time. How are you holding up?
Well, most days are good, but toward the end of the day I tend to snap. But I also bounce back a lot quicker. I am trying not to hold on to things. The business is very labor-intensive, and you need to provide good customer service. And when I am tired it’s harder. I love the neighborhood. I feel like I am established, that people want me to be here.
This is good, and I am lucky to have a job! If I were home, worried about how I was going to pay my bills, I’d be a lot more stressed out. At least now, I am working every day, making some money to put into the business and that gives me some security.
The storefront is open from approximately 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily, although hours are flexible. She recommends calling ahead at 212.777.LUCY.