takeOUTside is proudly presented by Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, our partner in helping Qcity Metro readers find new ways to explore and enjoy Charlotte-area restaurants, parks and green spaces.
This month’s pairing:
Restaurant: Juice Box
Park: Eastway Regional Recreational Center
Distance between them: 2.5 miles
Kimberly Wilkinson calls it “an epiphany,” her decision four years ago to shut down her clothing store and open a juice bar in the same storefront on North Davidson Street.
A 2009 graduate of Johnson C. Smith University with a degree in business marketing, she had reached a crossroads along her entrepreneurial journey; she no longer enjoyed fashion retail.
“I pivoted well,” she says. “I never knew what I wanted to do, except work for myself. So if something doesn’t work, then it’s like, OK, I’m always thinking of another business idea.”
That “idea” later gave birth to The Juice Box, which sells an assortment of health-related drinks and smoothies in an artsy part of town that Wilkinson characterizes as “granola and yoga.”
About The Juice Box
Address: 3100 North Davidson Street
The concept: Wilkinson says her goal is to provide her customers with healthy drinks and supplements. “Food is medicine,” she frequently says, noting that much of what we eat contains chemicals, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
Social distancing: Indoor seating and a small patio space with one table. Most customers simply grab and go.
Before she opened: For a while, Wilkinson swore off meats and became a vegetarian. (She still avoids pork.) She traveled to Jamaica to learn about natural juices, and then to California to study the juice-bar business. Finally, she worked at a juice bar in Charlotte to hone her skills.
The menu: cold press juices, smoothies, essential shots, CBD products and vitamins
Top seller: Smoothies make up about 85-90% of sales. They come in a variety of flavors, with names like NoDa Sprout (coconut milk, kale, spinach, banana and mango), Coffee Break (almond milk, raw cacao powder, espresso, hemp seed, plant protein, almond butter and banana) and Green Machine (organic apple juice, coconut milk, lemon, spinach, kale, banana, pineapple).
The pandemic: As summer gives way to winter, The Juice Box normally sees its sales drop off by 50%, Wilkinson says. She compares 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic, to one long winter. “It’s ebb and flow right now,” she adds. “I see a pattern of it getting busier, and then it drops off again.” Wilkinson notes her business is heavily reliant on NoDa’s foot traffic, which has been down this year.
P.S: The Juice Box, which will celebrate its fourth anniversary on Nov. 16, isn’t the only Charlotte business Wilkinson owns. In January she opened Members Only Tasting Room & Social, a spot in Plaza Midwood offering a selection of beer and wine, specialty cocktails and an upscale food truck. Read more about Members Only.
A hub for fitness
For those keen on health and fitness, less than three miles from The Juice Box, the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department is putting the final touches on its Eastway Regional Recreation Center, a facility unlike anything Mecklenburg County has built before.
Coming in at 100,000 square feet spread over multiple levels, the Eastway facility is more than three times larger than the county’s next-biggest rec center — the Revolution Regional Sports and Learning Academy (at Barringer and Remount roads), that measures just 30,000 square feet.
Eventually, the county hopes to build four such facilities, one in each region of Charlotte-Mecklenburg — north, south, east and west.
Lee Jones, park and recreation director, says the goal is all about promoting health and wellness.
“This (center) gives us the chance to do that,” Lee notes.” We’re going to have several programs. Our priority is to be multi-generational, so that young and old can be together and participate together.”
About the center
Address: 423 Eastway Drive
The Concept: Jones describes the center as a regional hub for health and fitness, a place that will draw residents living within a 20-minute drive. Jones said the center (and each of the next three) will develop fitness programs and outdoor activities unique to its physical setting, regional population and demographics.
Amenities: indoor pool for swimming laps, another pool for splashing around, basketball courts, exercise equipment, activity rooms, trained staff and more.
The setting: The center is located within the confines of Eastway Park, a 90-acre outdoor space with walking trails, community art, disc golf, multi-purpose sports fields. (It’s also an easy walk from the county’s Briarwood Park.)
The pandemic: Although touchups are almost completed, Jones says Covid-19 remains the wild card. His team is working with county health officials to determine when is the right time to open. He’s hoping it can open within the next month or two.
Fees: County residents can pay a monthly fee ranging from $22 for youth (1-17) to $65 for families. Nonresidents will pay a slightly higher price. Daily rates also will be available.