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Healthful blends
The Juice Kitchen finds success in the city's largest food desert

Photos by Matt Haas

June 2016

Maanaan Sabir of The Juice Kitchen

It was the watermelon juice that did it. Maanaan and JoAnne Sabir’s son, Taj, was born with a genetic condition, ectodermal dysplasia, and for the first five years of his life, he was in and out of hospitals and on and off antibiotics.

"What that means is that anything from having a piece of candy to having too much bread could cause mucus to build up in his body," Maanaan explains. Taj was having an attack, and he couldn’t take in any medicine. The couple had just purchased a juicer, so they decided to juice watermelon. Taj drank the juice and was able to expel the mucus. "Twenty minutes later, he was fine," Maanaan says.

Taj, who is now 12, hasn’t been hospitalized since, and his parents began experimenting with all sorts of healthy juice combinations. Maanaan also began selling fresh juices to his personal training clients, and he and his wife began delivering juice to dozens of other customers. His wife is also an integrative nutritionist and a health coach.

That clamoring for their tasty, healthy blends led them to open up The Juice Kitchen in Walnut Way’s Innovations and Wellness Commons. The newly opened juice kitchen is a bright space welcoming juice lovers from across the city and suburbs to their little haven, which sells out of almost every juice by closing time. "The Juice Kitchen is an anomaly," Maanaan says. "We’re in the heart of the largest food desert in Milwaukee. We expected it to pay the light bill. We did not expect it to be as popular as it is."

The juice blends come in delicious combinations like Ameera Apple Pie, a blend of apple, nutmeg, cinnamon and honey named for their daughter, Ameera; Purple Haze, a beet, apple, sweet potato, strawberry and lemon blend inspired by Jimi Hendrix; Real Bucks, which pays homage to Milwaukee’s home team with kale, lemon, lime and apple juices; and Energy, which blends cantaloupe, sweet potato, lemon and apple juices. Besides the juice blends, the couple and their able team of juicers combine juices for special detox cleanses, which range from a one-day cleanse to a 21-day program.

This spring, they’re also expanding their offerings to special juices designed for people suffering from various health conditions like diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome, and on Wednesday mornings, they’ll begin offering a 6 a.m. yoga class in the store. "Food isn’t a cure-all, but it can significantly impact your daily life," says JoAnne.

"What really drives us is to serve the community," Maanaan says. "Our motto is ‘More than juice.’"



This story ran in the June 2016 issue of: