Written by Verity Smith
Once upon a time, I lived in So Cal. Not a big fan of either endless summer or car culture, I moved East years ago, and thought I’d never look back. But we often don’t realize what we will most miss until we’ve left a place. For me? Hands down: the juice bar on every corner! The ubiquity of smoothie shops and the like was such that I took it utterly for granted. Going to the gym? Get a protein boost first or a detox drink after. No time for lunch on the run between classes or work meetings? Grab a smoothie and an energy bar and good to go. Going to the beach? Nothing better or more refreshing on a sunny day (and they were all sunny days). Not so out East.
So I could hardly contain my excitement when I learned that The Juice Branch – a Catskill fixture and local favorite since 2018 – was opening a 2nd location in Hudson! A new “branch” of The Branch, as it were. And I was far from alone — lots of Hudsonians I know traversed the river on the regular over the past two years to pick up an Alice in Wonderland, a Domaine Diego, or an All Hands on Deck (my favorites of their smoothies – so far!), one of their amazing bowls (w fruit, grains, chia, nuts, and more), or even some house-made organic baby food, seamoss, or juices for a “cleanse”. The anticipation for the arrival of the new “Branch” here in Hudson has been palpable!
And now, as of Friday, August 7, THE JUICE BRANCH IS HERE! While the planned March opening of the 719 Columbia location was delayed by COVID (hard to get final inspections done during a shutdown), the proprietors – Natasha Law and George Salter – and their crew were able to keep the Catskill Branch open for curb-side/take-out throughout, and are now up and running full-tilt here in Hudson as well.
And wow, was it worth the wait! It’s like the juice bars of my So Cal days — but so much better! The space itself is colorful and inviting, with great, friendly, knowledgeable customer service, and a true “neighborhood vibe“. Located right around the corner from the 7th Street Park, it’s also ideal for pandemic dining al fresco. And the flavors of the food and drink pop just as brightly as the art on the walls.
Right now the MENU at the Hudson branch falls into 3 categories:
— BOWLS: Try the Mango Paradise or the Supreme King Delight! There are 7 different Bowls, each just $8 and full of a range of flavors and textures — chock full of ingredients that nicely balance each other. Super refreshing and also really filling. A lot of food. Plus, they just look so pretty, it’s almost a shame to eat them ?.
— TOASTS: I’m a sucker for avocado toast and they have 4 different kinds! And while usually a savory-side-of-the-menu person, I’ve heard such raves about the Nutella and Strawberries toast that it’s activated my sweet tooth (maybe even today …). Rumor has it their house-made hummus is the bomb, and that’s the centerpiece of another of the toasts. A dozen toasts to choose from, all between $5-7. GF available for $1 extra.
— SMOOTHIES and JUICES: An absolutely enormous list (enough to make your head spin), with a huge range of ingredients and an additional list of possible add-ins. 3 sizes of smoothies for $6/8/12 (and the “small”
is a generous 16 oz!). Plus “Shots” — OG stuff like an Immunity Shot, an Energy Shot, and so on, but also ones I’ve never heard of and can’t wait to learn about ($3-8).
Community education about and access to healthful food is at the center of The Juice Branch’s mission, as reflected by their motto – “The Bridge Between You and Health”. Per their focus on health of all kinds, The Juice Branch is committed to being fully rooted in and giving back to the surrounding community. Co-proprietor Natasha Law told me, for example, that they purposively sought locations not on the main commercial drag for each location, both to keep their price points low enough “so that everyone could afford to be healthy” and to cultivate a “chill” neighborhood feel, where they hoped those of all cultures, backgrounds and ages would come together. The Catskill “Branch” was a wild success, and they’d been looking for a spot for a second Branch in Hudson for about a year when they found this one and deemed it perfect.
Their walls are covered in art by local artists (for sale to benefit the artists). At their soft opening on August 7th, they were giving away free children’s books about MLK and Harriet Tubman, to contribute to “Knowledge and Health.” Natasha tells me that they also plan to do some kind of bi-monthly community project at each Branch, “whether it be a reading rewards program for the youth, or selling hearts to be able to purchase carnations for those in our nursing homes.” In sum, being rooted in and giving back to the community — eg community health — is at the core of their mission.
And of course on the more literal physical-health side, there’s a cool back story, too. Co-proprietor George Salter began juicing at home some years ago to take ahold of and improve his own health, then kept learning, experimenting, and refining his skills, and before long it was apparent that he’d discovered a real calling. Friends and neighbors began to flock to the house, asking him to juice for them too. A thirst for knowledge about healthy eating — and of course delicious yet healthy food and beverage — was clearly out there. With Natasha’s background in restaurant management and interest in mixology, and George’s passion for all things juice and healthy eating, it began to seem like kismet — and the rest is Juice Branch history.
On a personal note, Natasha added that this is far from their first collaboration: “George and I have known each other for 25 years. We raised 2 beautiful children together and though we have not been together in a little over a decade, we are best friends and wouldn’t want to do this venture with anyone else.” Sounds like destiny to me. And serendipity for those of us in Hudson.
Make sure to check out the Juice Branch/Seafood Steamery POP-UP at the Black Entrepreneurs Showcase at Henry Hudson Waterfront Park, Sunday, August 30, 3-7 PM.
And of course stop by a Branch near you meanwhile:
-The Hudson Branch: 719 Columbia Street, Tues-Fri 8-4, Sat 9-4, Sun 9-2, closed M.
-The Catskill Branch: 65 West Bridge St, Tues-Fri 8-4, Sat 9-4, closed Sun and M.
Call: 518-947-0920 or Text: 518-291-2612.
Pay by: Cash, Check, Cash App, Venmo