Featured Guests

Green & Tonic Juice Bar, Interview with Jeffrey Pandolfino

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Juicing has been around for ages but juice bars haven’t been as popular, however with the plant-based diet movement growing…juice bars are sprouting up all over the country making it easier to get a quick healthy snack while sticking to the plant-based diet. We talked with Jeffrey Pandolfino who recently opened a couple of cold-press juice bars on the East Coast called Green & Tonic.

Editor’s Note: Photo courtesy Green & Tonic. 
 

Transcript

Please excuse the typos and punctuation errors. This transcript was completed by AI voice-generation software.

Phoebe Chongchua:
I’m Phoebe Chongchua. You are listening to The Plant-Based Diet podcast. Juicing has been around for ages, but juice bars haven’t been as popular. However, with The Plant-Based Diet movement, growing strong juice bars are sprouting up all over the country, making it easier to get a quick healthy snack while sticking to The Plant-Based Diet. In fact, when I was recently in New York City, I found a little juice cart and was just thrilled that I was able to grab a juice each morning. We talked with Jeffrey Panino, who recently opened a couple of cold pressed juice bars on the east coast called Green & Tonic.

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
I’m a chef by trade. I went to Johnson Wales University. I graduated 1994 and I spent better part of about 10 years traveling around the country working for celebrity chefs and different restaurateurs and places like even DeLuca and just gaining the vast knowledge of food and restaurant experience and quick service experience. And in 2003 I got married and moved to Greenwich, Connecticut and started a business here called Plum Care Foods, which was a catering prepared foods, all natural quick service type concept. I sold that in 2008 and bought a company called Elixir Juice Bar out of bankruptcy. It was in New York City. We orchestrated a bit of a turnaround with that over the next two and a half years. Cleaned that up, fixed that up. I sold that last year to a group in the city and I’ve spent the last, I guess 12 months really getting closer to what I really wanted to do, which was have a plant-based quick service restaurant concept. So I’ve been spending the last 12 to 16 months really exploring a deeper food and its relationship with the body and its ability to heal you. We have two retail stores, one in Greenwich, Connecticut and one in Darien, Connecticut.

Phoebe Chongchua:
What got you interested in plant-based eating

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
In 2008 when I sold my previous business, I found myself at about 215 pounds. I was pre-diabetic, I was on Lipitor and I had really had all the trappings of working too much and not taking care of myself and my body and just really wasn’t making time for it. And I went on a personal mission to explore more what I was eating and the effect that it was having on my body. And what I gravitated more towards was raw fruits and vegetables. And I had a plant-based life, and I’m not a hundred percent plant-based right now. I’ve definitely gone, had very long stretches of being robbed, long stretches of being totally vegan. I’m eating a little bit of chicken right now and a little bit of fish, but I’m pretty exclusively never beef and never pork and really no dairy at all in my diet. And that’s kind of, I like how I feel. I like how I recovery from working out is I like the energy that it gives me and the stamina that it gives me and it’s just a lot simpler, easier way to eat, approach eating every day.

Phoebe Chongchua:
And what have you found has been the response to your introducing more plant-based eating, especially in the area that you’re in? I’m not familiar with whether or not it would be popular there. I know out here in San Diego it’s becoming more and more popular and certainly,

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
Yeah, that’s a great question.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Veterinarian places are,

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
We avoid the word vegan just because it has a very, smells like cumin connotation. People are still kind of a little freakish about that word, and that’s why we really push this phrase plant-based lifestyle because it’s a little bit easier to wrap your hands around.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Well, we support that.

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
Yeah, the response has been overwhelming. We live roughly 30 miles outside of New York City. We’re in Fairfield County, Connecticut, which is arguably the top if there’s 10 of the wealthiest zip codes in the country. We’re living in two or three of them right here. So we’re a high net worth community that are highly educated and they’ve traveled the world. The majority of them either work in New York City, have lived in New York City, have recently moved out from New York City, and there’s a strong movement happening right now in the city around this stuff. So they’ve been exposed to cleansing. They’ve been exposed to places like Organic Avenue or Juice Press or Liquid Aria, so this is not foreign to them.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Tell me about your favorite green drink now you’re doing raw juices, cold pressed.

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
We do. We have three levels of green juices. We only cold pressed. We do not make the order. That’s important to know. We’re the only company in Fairfield County, Connecticut that cold presses our juices. We do three levels. We have a basic green juice, and then we have one that’s a little bit sweeter with pineapple in it. And we have one that’s a little bit more intense with spirulina in it. And I would say the one with spirulina is my favorite. I like the higher level of nutrition. I probably drink at least one or two a day.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Tell us a little bit about the process for those who may not understand what you mean by cold press.

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
There are basically three methods to extracting juice. There is a very old school, like a twin auger method that it’s like a juicer your mom might have had from the sixties or seventies. The fruits go in the top and they are spun through two rotating augers to extract the juice. That’s probably the worst way to make fresh juice. And then there’s the traditional juice bar juicer that uses centrifugal force. The fruits and vegetables go in the top, it throws the pulp out to the side and it’s extracted using a very fast spinning basket. That is a great way to get juice quickly. It doesn’t have a hundred percent of the nutrient extraction, but it’s pretty good for you. And as far as doing it at home, it’s probably the best way to do it at home. We use a bigger machine that shreds first and uses about two tons of hydraulic force to press all the juice out of the fruits and vegetables, and it’s really giving you a juice that’s a hundred percent nutrient-dense. It’s just a far superior product as far as nutrition’s concerned.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Tell us a little bit about your location and the general area. We’re

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
Located about 30, 40 minutes outside of New York City near Stanford, Connecticut in a town called Greenwich. That’s kind of where the finance world of Manhattan lives. They commute into the city every day, and so obviously if you’re visiting, visiting New York City, it’s a quick ride out. We’re right along the coast, the Long Island sound very convenient to Manhattan. We are looking for partnership licensing agreements all over the country. We’re talking to a lot of different groups, so anybody who’s interested in having that type of conversation, we’re wide open to that. We’re really looking to grow in the next 18 to 24 months. This is a beautiful part of the country and people are really tuned into health and wellness and feeling good, and they understand the role that food plays in that. And we’re very fortunate to be in this community.

Phoebe Chongchua:
We’ve started a movement called the Plant-Based Challenge out here in San Diego, and we’re really hoping it spreads nationwide. And one of the initiatives is, of course, eating a mostly plant-based diet. And I like how you said you’re not completely vegan, vegetarian, you do eat a little bit of meat and what we’re trying, and you said mostly chicken or fish, but we’re trying to just get people to understand if they can at least get their plate or their drinks to be mostly green as opposed to sodas and shakes, that they will lead a healthier lifestyle and they’ll feel the benefits. I mean, you can feel when you go plant-based, or at least mostly I think you’ll agree with me, you can feel the benefits within 30 days.

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, without a doubt.

Phoebe Chongchua:
The other initiative we’re doing is like you, there’s many people who maybe they’re on certain medications and certainly they have to consult with their own physicians, but we’re hoping that they take a good hard look at what they are taking because the downside of medication is that there’s a lot of side effects. So we like to think that food is medicine, if you will. And I’m looking at with Green & Tonic, I see that you guys have not just green drinks, but you also have some other, is it nut drinks that you’re offering?

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
Yeah, we do a full line of plant-based prepared foods. We do sandwiches, salads, wraps, all plant-based. We have a full line of functional smoothies. We really like to highlight certain ingredients and talk about the internet effect on the body and why you should be heating these things on a daily basis.

Phoebe Chongchua:
What’s your goal?

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
I mean, our goal right now is we’re really looking to get one or two more stores, brick and mortar stores open in the next six to nine to 12 months, and we’d like to, from there, reach out and move into another region of the country with a brick and mortar model, whether Washington DC or Boston or West Coast. And that could be through franchising or through a licensing agreement with someone. That’s really our goal. We want to build more stores, we want to expand the brand out a little bit.

Phoebe Chongchua:
Alright, well, Jeffrey, I wish you the best of luck with it. It’s called Green & Tonic, and it just sounds amazing. I hope that we can see more of this across the country, so I do wish you all the best.

Jeffrey Pandolfino:
Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.

Phoebe Chongchua:
I’m Phoebe Chongchua. You’ve been listening to The Plant-Based Diet podcast. Join us each week online for a podcast interviews on whole food plant-based nutrition, health and fitness, MINDBODY awareness and living sustainably and charitably. Take The Plant-Based Challenge, visit ThePlant-BasedDiet.com.

Author

Phoebe Chongchua is a multimedia brand journalist who consults and writes on wellness, all things plant-based, fitness, lifestyle, and travel. She is yoga certified and earned her certificate in Whole Food Plant-Based Eating in 2010 through eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. She's also a top podcaster for her marketing/storytelling podcast, The Brand Journalism Advantage at ThinkLikeAJournalist.com

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.