Pandemic inspires new juice business – The Royal Gazette

Updated: Aug 06, 2022 08:01 AM
Keira-Lee Woodley at the new Ital Juice Café (Photo by Jesse Muniz Hardy)

Some of the juices on display at the new Ital Juice Café in St. George (Photo by Jesse Muniz Hardy)

Back in March 2020, Kyra-Lee Van Putten and boyfriend Jamal Woodley find themselves stuck together in Canada during the pandemic.

“It was my birthday and Jamal came to visit me in Toronto, where I was at school,” she said. Then the Covid-19 virus hit and flights were cancelled. Jamal was stuck.”

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Three years later, Mrs. Van Putten is now Mrs. Woodley. The couple had their own fresh juice company, Ital Beverages, and three weeks ago, the Ital Juice Cafe opened at 31 York Street, St George.

“When we got back from Canada, Jamal wasn’t working,” Woodley said. So he decided to sell the juice. He and his mother used to make and sell it.”

They made a batch of three different types of fresh juice and started delivering them all over the island. Woodley was shocked at how quickly it sold out.

“After that, it didn’t stop,” she said.

At first they bought their bottles from a local company, but soon their need exceeded what they could comfortably provide.

‘So now we bring our bottles from outside,’ said Mrs. Woodley.

They go through about 12,000 bottles in three months.

“Our house was full of juice bottles,” Mrs. Woodley said. “So in January we moved into the space on York Street. Then we thought because we had more space, we should open a coffee shop.”

I was really nervous about taking this step.

“Then my cousin came from Los Angeles,” said Mrs. Woodley. “She was helping me out, and she gave me the courage to get through. The cafe was going well, so I was nervous for no reason.”

The café now offers vegetarian options such as acai bowls and avocado toast. They plan to expand their food offerings in the coming months. But they would not serve anything with meat, as they feel that it would be against the healthy spirit of their work.

Many of its ingredients are said to have health benefits.

“Hibiscus tea is good for lowering blood pressure,” she said. “Lemon cools your blood.”

Their clients include visitors and locals alike.

“She’s been busy since day one,” Woodley said. “Other stores sometimes recommend that people come here. The most challenging thing about running this so far is meeting the demand.”

Some of the juice flavors include pineapple, ginger, mango, watermelon, lemon cucumber, hibiscus tea, and ginger carrot, among others.

“Pineapple is probably the most popular,” Woodley said. “We’re probably selling about 80 of those a day.”

Everything is made in the store. Mr. Woodley spends several hours each evening making drinks with fresh fruit.

One of the most difficult ingredients to source is hibiscus.

“We hand pick the hibiscus,” Mrs. Woodley said. “It used to be a lot of work. Now we pay young kids to do it. They get paid $10 per bag. They pick it up from all over the neighborhood. The redder the flowers, the better. The hibiscus grows again every day.”

She said carrots may also be difficult to source, depending on local availability.

Going forward, Woodleys wants to add more juice flavors and more menu items including soup and panini.

Ms. Woodley said the best thing about the business was seeing people enjoy their products.

“People always say, ‘Oh my God, this tastes great. I’m addicted,’” she said. “Everyone loves it. We take great pride in making sure our products are consistent. We also take great pride in our customer service.”

Instagram @italbda