Thursday, December 9, 2021
Dec. 9, 2021

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Food & Drink: Be Well Juice Bar reborn with a fresh feel

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Vancouver FARMacy juice and Bento bowl at Be Well Juice Bar.
Vancouver FARMacy juice and Bento bowl at Be Well Juice Bar. Rachel Pinsky Photo Gallery

As every chef gives a dish a different flavor, an owner of a small business gives a space its own personal vibe.

Melanie Concannon recently took over Be Well Juice Bar and has given it her own touch. I visited for the grand reopening on Jan. 8. The most obvious change is that the space looks completely different.

The original Be Well Juice Bar was an open space with a clean, minimalist design. The new Be Well is filled with more things. Concannon hired DKV design (a company dedicated to reconfiguring space for function and beauty) to help give the space a new look. The first change you’ll notice is a nook to the right side of the entrance filled with a green velvet couch with attractive overstuffed throw pillows, a boho chic throw rug and two wide padded chairs covered in a soft cream fabric. Nearby, there’s a wood counter with another small wood counter placed askew on top of it. These counters are festooned with a garden of greenery and flowers, a wire basket of oranges and a wire basket of bananas. On its ledge are cutlery, napkins and straws, and milk for coffee.

The clicking of an espresso machine has been added to the whirring of the juicers. The cash register has been moved to a stand at the back of the space allowing more room for people to line up. There’s more seating — the old juice bar (now juice/espresso bar) has a bunch of stools cupping its side. There are more stools on a wooden bar that has been added near the front. There are also a couple of marble-topped tables for small groups. Or you can chill out with your food and beverage of choice on the couch.

Overall, the feel is more coffee shop that serves a short menu of quick, healthy bites than its prior incarnation of health food-driven juice bar. The center of the new menu is dominated by espresso and coffee drinks with beans from local coffee roaster Kafiex. There are still some of the old favorites — Vancouver FARMacy juice, Be Wellin’ smoothie and vegan chili. There also remains a good selection of smoothies and juices. Concannon explained, “I want to reach the coffee lovers and the juice fans.”

The bowl and toast menu have been pared down. The two bowls on the new menu are the chili and the Bento. The Bento has moist chunks of free range chicken and tender, nutty brown rice topped with baby spinach and hazelnuts judiciously drizzled with a housemade sauce that tasted like a light teriyaki — subtly sweet and salty. Avocado toast is the only remnant of the old toast menu. The avocado toast comes with avocado (of course), feta, basil, olive oil and cracked pepper on gluten-free bread. Two acai bowls have been added. One of the acai bowls is topped with house made gluten-free granola, banana, strawberry, coconut, hazelnut, raspberry compote and bee pollen. The other is a classic acai with acai, strawberry, apple and banana.

Off to a busy start

Customers can also buy fresh flowers from April May flowers. Concannon explained, “Get a juice and grab a beautiful bouquet of flowers.”

When Concannon heard that one of her favorite spots, Be Well, was closing, she knew it was the perfect business opportunity for her. Her goal is that “each individual who comes through our doors leaves fed, both body and soul!”

I arrived at the grand opening on Jan. 8 around lunchtime. The line kept extending midway through the room during the hour I was there. At first, it seemed that the crew had things under control — food and drink were streaming out at a rapid rate. At some point, the system hit overload. A waitress carrying a Bento bowl called out the name Charley and repeatedly walked the length of the room. Eventually, she gave up and handed it to another customer who had also order the Bento telling him, “You’re Charley now.”

The crowd was a mix of people in casual business attire, parents with small kids, teens and millennials. Most of them seemed to know the new owner, greeting her as she rapidly fired off free lattes from behind a large espresso machine. Through all the chaos, Concannon kept her cool. She mentioned that she’d been up since 2 a.m., but her exhaustion did not show as she simultaneously chatted up well-wishers, pulled shots and frothed milk.

If You Go

What: Be Well Juice Bar.

Where: 1012 Washington St., Vancouver.

Hours: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Contact: BeWellJuiceBar.com

It’s likely that the pandemonium of opening day will subside and the crew will find its flow. If Concannon’s friends become regulars, the new Be Well will be a raging success. It will be interesting to see if it continues to morph into a coffee house and to watch the transition of the menu. A Be Well app will be up and running by mid-January so you can get in and out quickly.


Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at couveeats@gmail.com. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @couveeats.

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