NORTH LIBERTY — When Tina Whitney and Brandon Crane parked their boats next to each other at the Coralville Lake marina two years ago, they struck up a friendship that has turned into a business. The friends opened Smash Juice Bar & Eatery on Oct. 19 in North Liberty.
Both were looking to add a new venture to their lives; Crane worked as a concrete finisher, and Whitney still holds a job as general manager at a fitness center.
“I knew I couldn’t do concrete forever; it was getting hard on my body,” Crane said. “I thought this would be a great opportunity.”
They initially talked about opening a CBD-infused juice bar — Whitney previously ran one in Scottsdale, Arizona — but said they want to wait for Iowa’s regulations to be more clear on CBD products.
“Iowa’s not quite there yet. We decided to take the first step with a juice bar,” Whitney said. “We’re patiently waiting. We have so many people who are interested ... it’s just a matter of time, I think.”
The overarching idea, she said, is that food should contribute to wellness and healing.
“We really do want to be a holistic, whole, healthy option,” she said. “Healthy can taste good.”
They wanted to offer a healthy, quick spot for food in North Liberty, they said. It was something Whitney saw a potential demand for in the area, with several gyms and the bike trail nearby. She lives in North Liberty; Crane lives in Solon.
“Being in the fitness industry, people would constantly ask, ‘Oh, do you have kale juice or anything like that?’” she said.
The menu centers around smoothies and cold-pressed juices, which they sell in 8- or 16-ounce bottles.
Each juice is designed around a different health goal and includes about two pounds of produce per 16-ounce bottle. They include juices like the “Verde All Day” with cucumber, celery, fennel, spinach, lemon, kale and parsley, and “Healthy Hippie” with carrot, orange, pineapple and turmeric. That one is designed as an anti-inflammatory, Whitney said.
She’s been developing her smoothie recipes for the last 15 years or so, with options like “Pump up the Jam,” with strawberries, peanut butter, banana and vanilla protein, or “Mango Tango” with strawberries, raspberries, mango and orange.
“We eliminate the ice cream and syrups from our smoothies to make them healthy,” she said.
For those looking for something to sink their teeth into, they have dishes like acai bowls and a waffle bar, along with snacks like a hummus plate and a cheese and meat plate.
They offer either a protein or a gluten-free waffle, which customers can top with two fruit and two dry ingredients.
“What’s fun (about our menu) is you can be creative and change it up,” Whitney said.
If the restaurant does well in North Liberty, they’d like to expand it with additional locations. More immediately, they hope to add a drive-through option.
The building previously housed Molly’s Cupcakes and Yotopia. Crane and Whitney did much of the work themselves to transform it into the juice bar, they said.
The space has bright white walls and lots of natural light, which Whitney said was intentional, to highlight the vibrant colors of the food.
Watching those colors emerge from their juice machine is one of Crane’s favorite parts of running the business.
“I like juicing because I like running machines,” he said. “And I love seeing those colors. They’re bold, they’re bright.”
If You Go
What: Smash Juice Bar & Eatery
Where: 620 Pacha Parkway, Suite 4, North Liberty
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Details: (319) 512-3833, facebook.com/Smashjuicebars