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By Elena Kadvany

Downtown Palo Alto gets its first juice shop

Uploaded: Mar 7, 2014

Downtown Palo Alto is getting its first solo juice shop in April, with San Francisco-born Project Juice on its way to 575 High St.

Project Juice sells bottled cold-pressed, all-organic vegetable and fruit juices, all sourced locally (within about 150 miles of San Francisco). Juices range from the very green ("Dr. Green Plus: celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, lemon) to the sweeter side of the juice spectrum ("Beta Bomb": pineapple, orange, carrot, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, lime) with much in between. There's also thicker shake-like drinks made with almonds, dates, banana and more.

Project Juice offers 15 menu staples, plus two to three seasonal drinks offered in stores. Prices start at $7 per juice and average about $9. View the full menu here. The company also offers cleanses, which can come pre-packaged or be custom-created.

Project Juice is a homegrown business, started in 2012 by couple Rachel and Greg Malsin and business partner Devon Briger, an Atherton resident. The two relocated from New York City to San Francisco for Greg's job the previous year. For Rachel, who has numerous food allergies and suffers from celiac disease ?¬ a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing certain parts of food ? conscientious eating and juice-consuming is a major priority.

"Before I even knew that I had celiac (disease), I would eat raw food and juice because it was the only thing that I could eat that I didn't get sick from," she said. "I didn't know why. I just knew if I ate this food, I felt good."

It's hard to imagine now in juice-crazed San Francisco, but she said when she first moved to the city in 2011, it was bereft of quality retail juice shops.

And thus, another Bay Area gastronomical venture got its start. The couple and Briger started by delivering juice (which they still do). They graduated to running a pop-up at a coffee shop in San Francisco's Jackson Square for two months, and the rest is history. Last June, they opened their first brick-and-mortar at the Crocker Galeria in San Francisco's Financial District. They opened their second on Polk Street (also in San Francisco) in February. Palo Alto is slated to open in early April, and Rachel said more expansion plans are in the works.

Rachel said they've been eyeing the South Bay for expansion for awhile, particularly Palo Alto, but most University Avenue spaces are too large for a small retail shop's purposes. (All of Project Juice's drinks are made off-site at a production facility in South San Francisco, and the company's main source of produce is a farm in Watsonville.)

They found the 500-square-foot High Street space about six months ago, Rachel said, and got the ball rolling. Here's a sneak peek of the space, courtesy of Project Juice:

They've also brought on Kailey Jean, a local vegan chef, to cook up raw, vegan food that will eventually ? not right away ? be offered in the store as grab-and-go type items. Individuals who might not want to go the full mile with a juice cleanse can opt for a cleanse supplemented by Jean's food. Other pre-packaged healthy snacks will be sold in-store.

Rachel has a broader vision for the store, planning to offer seminars run by a holistic health practitioner that works with the company. She also said she thinks California is still behind in terms of the raw food movement, and hopes to make a dent in that.

"I still see such a gap as far as the food goes," she said. "It's not as prevalent as it is in New York and L.A."

Project Juice
575 High St., Palo Alto