Growing up, Jill Howard faced health complications. From the age of seven, the Fort Wayne native suffered from migraines, and as she reached adulthood, other health issues came up, including hair loss, extremely sensitive skin, and compromising digestive issues. Juice Jar produces vegan, fresh, organic drinks and snacks.
Over the years, she saw doctors, but they ultimately said they couldn’t do any more to help her. So at the age of 28, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
In an effort to feel better, Jill began juicing fruits and vegetables to drink, and she became an avid juicer for about 10 years from the comfort of her home. But while drinking juice daily helped her overcome her health issues, she discovered that finding 100% raw and organic cold-pressed juice in Fort Wayne was a difficult task.
“One day, I mentioned to my husband that I wished I could get juice like I got my daily coffee,” Jill told Living Fort Wayne.
Ironically, she and her husband, Scott, are now moving their organic juice bar business called Juice Jar into the space formerly occupied by Mocha Lounge in Southwest Fort Wayne next month.
Juice Jar is giving the former Mocha Lounge space a bright, summery makeover.
In 2015, Jill and Scott first launched Juice Jar inside the City Exchange Shops in downtown Fort Wayne. When the Shops closed to renovate in 2018, Juice Jar temporarily closed with them and has been looking for a new, independent space to re-open ever since.
When the Howards found the former Mocha Lounge location, they knew it was the right fit, Jill says. They have been renovating the space to have a clean, summery, plant-based feel.
“I have seen all types of vibes in juice bars—from industrial to very airy and whimsical,” she says, noting that juice shops tend to have their own personalities, like coffee shops.
Juice Jar uses fresh, organic, local fruits and vegetables in its cold-pressed juice.
In major metropolises across the country, juice bars like Juice Jar are popping up as part of a new wave of health pioneers, making highly nutritious juice and smoothies as accessible and convenient to consumers as Starbucks lattes.
In 2019, juicing storefronts generated $3 billion dollars in the U.S. and employed more than 50,000 people, according to IBIS World.
In Fort Wayne, the Juice Jar is the only cold-pressed juice shop currently open to Jill’s knowledge—although grocers like the Health Food Shoppe offer organic juices made through a different method. By having a drive-thru window and lots of signage, Jill hopes customers will be able to walk in or order ahead at Juice Jar for convenient, quick service. Juice Jar focuses on 100 percent raw and organic cold-pressed juice.
The Howards’ overarching goal with Juice Jar is to take Jill’s passion and experience with juicing and share it with more of the Fort Wayne community. Afterall, the Summit City has been previously cited among the nation’s fattest cities with high rates of youth and adult obesity.
Essentially, Juice Jar is a snack shop filled with healthy goodies, such as smoothies, acai bowls, salads, nut butter and avocado toasts, and cold-pressed nut milks, Jill says. But the real attraction is its fresh, organic, cold-pressed juice.
“This juice is totally handcrafted and gives nutrients in its highest forms,” she explains.
When juice is cold-pressed, it is washed, cut down, pulverized, and pressed in mesh bags, which extract the juice in its purest form. There is no fiber with cold-pressed juices, but the shop’s smoothies will have fiber in them.
“We work as locally as we can, too,” Jill says, noting that Juice Jar uses sourcing as many of its ingredients as possible from the Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan area.
Speaking of ingredients, Jill says most of the ingredients in her juices are vegetables instead of fruits because they have a lower sugar content. Drinks can also be tailored for specific dietary needs. For example, someone who is diabetic might want to skip fruit altogether. Along with juice and smoothies, Juice Jar serves healthy snacks like Acai Bowls
Not a problem, Jill says. For instance, her Green Juice is composed of kale, spinach, cucumber, ginger, and lemon juices. For someone who wants something a little sweeter, she recommends a mix of watermelon, pineapple, raspberry, and mint.
“Tropical fruits tend to have more sugars,” she explains.
The new Juice Jar location is set to open in early October.
“Our mission is to provide food, beverages, and an experience that supports our customers’ journey to eat better, feel stronger, and live a more nourished lifestyle,” Jill says. “We want them to feel like we are there to help them win their day.”