A mobile juice company is putting down roots in Shockoe Bottom.
Blacker the Berry Juice Bar plans to open a brick-and-mortar location at 10 N. 18th St. in early May.
Owner Lamonte Yates started the company from a trailer in 2020, peddling house-made juices of fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs. The company also offers delivery.
The business was born during the pandemic, when Yates and his son got into cycling. He said that new hobby led him to discover the world of cold-pressed juices as a healthy way to fuel up. He began to make his own with a small juicer bought off Amazon.
Yates said he’s wanted a storefront all along, but went the mobile route to start when he couldn’t find a space in 2020.
“As soon as this opportunity came, it was the perfect spot. The location was beautiful,” Yates said. “This is what I wanted anyway, to be somewhere and be with people.”
Blacker the Berry sells its house-made juices by the 16-ounce glass bottle for $10 a pop as well as by the gallon for $75. It added salad dressings to its offerings last year.
With the expansion into brick-and-mortar, Blacker the Berry will offer a food menu for the first time, with breakfast and lunch options planned. Sandwiches are expected to run about $4 to $5, and the juice bar will also serve smoothies, salads and breakfast. Yates said he plans to be able to accept EBT at the juice bar.
Yates plans to invest between $75,000 and $100,000 into the juice bar. The space used to be occupied by Dave’s Barber Shop.
The 980-square-foot space is expected to have seating for about eight people but will primarily focus on to-go service.
Yates has two employees and plans to continue to use the trailer for pop-ups and events.
Blacker the Berry currently uses the kitchen of The Original Ronnie’s BBQ in Varina, but plans to move production to the Shockoe Bottom storefront.
Yates said he picked the company’s name as a tribute to black culture.
“The Blacker the Berry” is the name of a 1929 book by black writer Wallace Thurman, which has been referenced in a handful of songs and other creative works over the years including Tupac Shakur’s 1993 song “Keep Ya Head Up” and a 2015 Kendrick Lamar song of the same title.
Other juice bars in the city include the nearby JuiceLife RVA on 20th Street, Saadia’s Juicebox and Yoga Bar in Jackson Ward, the Beet Box in the Fan and Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar, which has Northside and downtown locations.
Brewer’s Cafe in Manchester launched a cold-press juice line in 2020. Owner A.J. Brewer said last week that he plans to open a juice bar in the old Brewer’s Cafe but hasn’t settled on an opening date yet.