It’s been a busy time for the owners of Real Good Juice Co., the hip smoothie shop that debuted in the summer of 2014 in Old Town. Ownership announced plans for a new stand-alone shop in Lakeview which should open on Jan. 5 inside the former Banh Mi Ba Get at 3538 N. Southport Ave., and Real Good is also searching for a location to open a third stand-alone spot. And they’ve expanded their offerings to serve tamales while using bread from acclaimed bakery Floriole in other items.
Real Good has also taken over the smoothie kiosks at six Chicago-area Whole Foods. They plan to open inside the Streeterville Whole Foods on Dec. 6. Their smoothies come with a price heftier than most smoothie spots. Customers, many of them fitness buffs from nearby spin studios or CrossFit-type centers, routinely pay more than $10 for their drinks spiked with supplements and blended with seasonal fruit and veggies.
The company is part of a crowded marketplace full of fast-casual concepts that tout themselves as healthy alternatives. The market is so crowded that Real Good left their location inside the Studio 3 fitness center in River North. Protein Bar founder Matt Matros has taken over the space with his Limitless Café and they’ve got cold brew on tap, and two varieties of butter coffee—the brew popularized by Bulletproof Coffee made with grass-fed butter. The coffee has claims it can aid in weight loss.
But despite the competition, Real Good rep Sarah Shaw said her company stands out. They’ve established relationships with their farmers and other vendors while making everything in-house. "We are in business because we care deeply about disrupting the flawed American food system and want to serve real food that's good for you," Shaw said.
Over in Old Town, the new items include vegan tamales (roasted vegetables, house-made pico de gallo, chipotle sauce), avocado toast (house-made vegan almond cheese on sourdough bread made by Floriole) and spiced slow-cooked oatmeal (fresh apple, granola, cinnamon). They’ll begin serving the items on a daily basis after Jan. 1, but right now they’re testing out the menu. In Lakeview, the menu will expand to soups and grain bowls.
The Whole Foods locations have a truncated menu. They serve the same juices, smoothie bowls and almost all the smoothies. But, for example, Whole Foods has a deal to supply their own coffee. That nixes Real Good’s drinks with their own coffee suppliers, such as the Nutty Uncle.
A former Wall Street trader, Jon Schiff, founded Real Good. It’s an exciting time for his team. "At this time last year we had just the one location," Shaw said. "Now, one year later, we're going on eight locations."