[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
BOARDMAN — For five years, Orange Avocado Juicery has offered vegan and gluten-free juice, smoothies and grab-and-go foods that put a healthy twist on classic favorites, like chia seed pudding, cashew coconut cheesecake and avocado cacao mousse.
The eatery, 1393 Boardman-Canfield Road, is most known for a rotating menu of organic fresh-pressed juices made daily. Popular juices include the “Orange Avocado,” made from orange, avocado and apple; “Chlorophyll,” made with celery, spinach, kale and lemon; and “Midnight Lemonade,” made from watermelon, lemon and activated charcoal.
“Smoothies and smoothie bowls are always really popular [too], especially in the summertime,” Pepe Parrish, co-owner of Orange Avocado said. “The whole concept is good nutrition — fast. Everything we make there is always ready to go.”
Another facet of Orange Avocado is their juice cleanses, during which a person only consumes fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices for a brief period. Juice cleanses aim to “reset and cleanse your body and get you back on track for a healthier lifestyle.”
“We try to ask people what their goals are [with the juice cleanse and] why they're doing it,” Parrish said. “A full juice cleanse will be like six juices a day and no solid foods or you can do a light cleanse where you drink four juices a day and you still eat raw fruits and vegetables.”
“Then there's always a question of how many days you want to do it. A lot of people will do a full juice cleanse for one day, and then you'll get people that want to do like a full week of a light cleanse,” he added. “They might get different results or take it a little easier for a little longer. It just kind of depends on what people are looking for personally.”
According to Parrish, because the juices are fresh-pressed, they don't have a very long shelf life. So it’s best for customers to give a few days' notice if they’re considering a juice cleanse to allow for preparation.
Laurie Chamoun, owner at Aladdin’s Eatery, and Parrish, employee and manager of Aladdin’s for 12 years, opened Orange Avocado in 2016. The duo noticed a growing interest in Aladdin’s fresh juices and various gluten-free and vegan menu items at the restaurant, specifically Parrish’s gluten free and vegan cookies, but wanted a space dedicated to the initiative.
“I don't think when it did happen that we were necessarily planning on doing it, but the perfect space came up,” Parrish said. “So when the space that we're in now came available, we kind of just took it as a sign to jump on it and roll with it. “
For Chamoun and Parrish alike, the mission was personal.
Orange Avocado opened the same year Chamoun’s father was diagnosed with cancer.
“Laurie, who had experience with juicing at her family’s Aladdin’s restaurant, began concocting blends to provide her dad with the nutrition he needed. In the end, he significantly outlived doctors predictions, and Laurie had a new mission,” according to their website.
[Laurie’s father’s diagnosis] was definitely a big inspiration. Just using nutrition as medicine and thinking about the purity of what you're putting in your body,” Parrish said. “There's three to five pounds of organic produce per bottle of juice. So, a lot of times if you're having a hard time even just getting enough nutrition in your daily diet, juice is always a good way to kind of up whatever nutrition you're looking for.”
Parrish, who’d already been living a vegan lifestyle at that point, wanted to satisfy a growing interest in gluten-free and vegan food options in the Mahoning Valley.
“I definitely knew that we kind of had a small niche community so there was a void there to fill. So I wasn't surprised that we would have a cult following right off the bat. But I guess I am constantly surprised that we keep growing and more and more people are interested in, even if they're not fully vegan or gluten free, just looking for healthier options in general,” Parrish said.
In recent years, Orange Avocado has collaborated with local businesses. Currently, Common Goods Studios carries an exclusive Orange Avocado juice creation made with lemon, pineapple, strawberry and apple juice, Aladdin’s Eatery Boardman and Pittsburgh locations carry Orange Avocado cheesecakes and Generations Cafe in Columbiana and Branch Street Coffee Roasters carry Orange Avocado cookies as well.
“We try to have good relationships with all those guys,” Parrish said. “It's just it makes life a lot more fun when you have friends that are alongside for the ride.”
Parrish said Orange Avocado is eager to resume appearances at local markets, fleas and other events that were canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of now, the juicery is in the process of creating new juice, smoothie and treat recipes for their rotating menu.