Organic beverage bar Project Juice opens in Berkeley

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Update 08/23/17: This article has been updated with additional information about Project Juice’s location.

Project Juice, a cold-pressed juice store with locations across California, opened its doors in Berkeley for the first time Aug. 12.

Opening at 1911 Fourth St, the new store aims to bring something new to the table by removing certain ingredients from its products, such as gluten and nuts. Greg Malsin said his wife and co-founder, Rachel Malsin, started the company because she couldn’t find cold-pressed juice that met her health needs in San Francisco.

All the beverages that the store offers, Greg Malsin said, are house-made, such as its almond milk.

I don’t think there’s anything like us that have the array of grab-and-go and made-to-order items that are plant based, organic and free of allergens,” said Greg Malsin. “It was a passion company for (Rachel).”

Greg Malsin said the company decided to open a store in Berkeley after seeing that a lot of customers were ordering its beverages through food delivery systems from Berkeley. It had been looking at expanding into the East Bay, so when it saw an opportunity for a new development, it moved in.

Project Juice donated all of the proceeds from its grand opening to the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, which aims to provide funding for teachers and programs throughout Berkeley public schools.

“Whenever we open a new store … we also like to give something back to the community,” Greg Malsin said. “The Public School Fund was something that really resonated with us.”

Kevin Fong, the store manager for Plentea in Berkeley, said he hopes Project Juice catches on.

“(Project Juice) sounds great,” Fong said. “It’s really important that consumers are being conscious about what they’re putting in their body.”

According to Fong, Plentea has moved to a model of using fresh ingredients in order to ensure that the drink is healthy for the customer. Fong added that when Plentea first opened, it was difficult to make it clear that his store is more than just an “aesthetic tea place.”

“If Project Juice would like to advertise their model and their vision,” Fong said. “It would probably be better for them.”

Han Chong, a campus sophomore majoring in English, said the opening of a new store doesn’t particularly excite him. However, Project Juice’s use of fresh ingredients piqued his interest.

“That’s not a really big selling point for me, the allergens,” said Chong. “As for organic, I might give it a shot because of that.”

Chong added that he doesn’t see himself going very often because he doesn’t usually frequent juice places. Greg Malsin said, however, that in the short time the store has been open, many students have come by.

“We’re really excited to be in Berkeley,” said Greg Malsin. “We had a really great start so far and really appreciate all the support the community has given us.”

Contact Michael Lee at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @_HyunkyuL.