By Dirk Perrefort The News-Times, Danbury, Conn.
After trying to live more healthily, young entrepreneur Diana Arias decided to start a juice bar in Sandy Hook that she hopes will become a gathering place for the community.
"When I was transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, I found it very difficult and often expensive to eat healthy, especially on the run," said Arias, a 21-year-old Danbury resident and student at Naugatuck Valley Community College. "I always wished there was a place I could stop and then the idea hit me to open up my own juice bar."
Arias opened the B.U. Juice Bar in March in the Sandy Hook Village. Customers can select from one of the shop's blends like the Green Machine, which includes celery, spinach, apple, orange, low-fat yogurt and bananas, or build their own with a variety of flavor options including "supercharges" like acai, goji berries, chia seeds or hemp seeds.
Arias said all of the ingredients are fresh, and she created most of the blends.
"I had a big taste-testing party with all my friends before we opened," she said. "All of the best blends made it onto the menu."
Arias, who continues to go to school part time and also has a day job as a nanny, said she loves having her own business and helping others enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
"Of course I was really nervous at first, but it's been a lot of fun," she said. "I'm really enjoying the experience."
Arias also spent a great deal of time creating a comfortable, urban chic environment complete with couches that she hopes will encourage people to stay awhile.
"Newtown is a very tight-knit community, and I want to be a part of that," she said. "We already have a lot of students who will come by for a while after school. I love that because not only can they interact with each other, but they are also choosing a healthier lifestyle. It's a lot better than going to an ice cream shop."
While many retailers have offered Wi-Fi as a way to attract customers, Arias said she decided against offering the service.
"I want people to come in and interact, to talk with each other," she said.
The shop offers yoga on Wednesday nights and has a meditation night in the works that was proposed by a customer.
"I want people to feel as though this is their own space," she said.
Joanne Sherwood, a personal trainer at the Newtown Youth Academy, said she hopes the business thrives. Sherwood stopped in recently for a Green Machine after talking a morning walk through the neighborhood. It was her second time visiting the juice bar since it opened in late March.
"I just wanted to pick up something that was healthier and refreshing than what I would find in a typical store," she said. "This is a great option."