STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Suzanne Schechtman begins most of her days by purchasing and shredding hundreds of pounds of fruits and veggies, then using a hydraulic press and 10,000 pounds of force to extract all of the produce’s sweet and natural juice. It’s a time-consuming cold-press process that preserves all of the live enzymes and nutrients that would normally be killed off during a mass production pasteurization process. And while her uncommonly fresh beet and carrot concoctions should be flying off the shelves, snapped up by a health-conscious clientele, much of it sits in the fridge for three days before getting tossed in the dumpster.
“This is a very fresh, raw product so the shelf life is short — only four to five days,” Schechtman said, detailing all of the time, effort and pricey produce that go into making one 16-ounce bottle of juice. “You can’t put a price on health, and folks don’t understand that two pounds of veggies are packed into each and every bottle, which is part of a healthy eating pattern. But due to global inflation causing the cost of ingredients to double in price since my store’s opening, it has been difficult to make ends meet. It’s become increasingly hard to bring wellness to the Staten Island community. People are paying $7 for coffee, but why does no one want to pay $9 for a healthy juice?”
Launched in July 2020 and dubbed by Schechtman as the only cold press juicer located on Staten Island, Pure Juicery in Annadale enjoyed a great deal of success during its first few months in business before sales began to decline.
“It’s been two-and-a-half years, and now we’re struggling to stay in business,” Schechtman said. “There’s been such an outrageous increase in the costs of goods, the expenses for operating this small business have basically spiraled out of control.”
Schechtman, a self-proclaimed juicepreneur and former athlete who grew up drinking fresh juices before her swim meets, said she can’t understand why the concept isn’t taking off.
“I have always enjoyed juicing my own fruits and vegetables at home, so it’s always been a lifestyle for me,” she said. “And when I moved to Staten Island, one of the first things that hit me was that there was no fresh juicery here. These shops are so trendy in California and Manhattan, I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t one here.”
That’s why Schechtman and her husband, Bryan, decided to combine his background in food manufacturing and her love for fresh juice, investing in all of the proper tools and technology to bring some healthy alternatives to a neighborhood which seemed to have none.
“There are plenty of fast-food options here, but nothing that is truly healthful,” Schechtman said. “So we launched the business with juices as the base, and then added on gourmet toasts, wraps, salads, acai bowls, vegan energy bites, smoothies and more.”
Located in the heart of Annadale, right by the train station, Schechtman said she thought her Hulk and Almond Java drinks would be the perfect pick-me-up for commuters, but the interest is just not there.
“I just want to create some awareness about how delicious health food can be,” Schechtman said. “We have terrific cold brew coffee and a banana Nutella smoothie that’s to-die-for. Our avocado toast and grilled chicken paninis are such a tasty and healthy lunch alternative. I think people see we’re a juicery and think it’s all kale and strawberries. There’s so much more than that on our menu.”
There are products like Hawaiian wraps with chicken, avocado, cilantro and pineapple and brie and fig jam toast. A Dragon Berry Peanut Butter bowl features pitaya, granola, banana and coconut flakes; the ham and Swiss panini is true cold-weather comfort food, only healthier.
“People think we’re all cold press juices, but there’s lots of good gourmet food here, and our prices are in line with every other lunch place in the borough,” Schechtman explained.
Pure Juicery is open six days a week (closed on Sundays) and sells pre-bottled juices and smoothies that are made on demand. Every Tuesday those smoothies (regularly $8) are sold for $6.
“We try to promote the business as much as we can,” Schechtman concluded. “We use the freshest ingredients and put our heart and soul into what we do. We just hope that consumers will go out of their way to visit this small juicer and see exactly what we have to offer.”