By Marjorie Rice
Many small food businesses begin over the kitchen table, with would-be entrepreneurs parlaying a family favorite recipe or two into a company.
Alexandra Maw took a different path back in 2007 when she began her company, Kaleidoscope Juice. Banking on a solid business plan Maw applied to an Arizona State University program for a grant to fund her startup.
Then she had to develop a product line. It’s a rather backward way to start a business, but it worked for Maw, 34. She recently opened her sixth location of Kaleidoscope Juice, at the redeveloped CASA business complex at 7878 N. 16th St. A seventh will open this month in Gilbert Heritage Square. The timing couldn’t be better, when many people are looking for healthy eating options after holiday excesses.
“When I applied for the grant, I saw that here was a huge opportunity to do healthy food, fast,” Maw said. “That was before juice bars. It was kind of a barren landscape at that point and I said ‘Let’s jump on it.’”
For Maw, a culinary career was a natural.
“Growing up in Vancouver, with my dad, a food and travel journalist, I’d always been around food and amazing ingredients,” she said. “I was obsessed with Julia Child and Jacques Pepin – I loved watching them over cartoons.”
Bearing bags of organic produce and a newly purchased juicer, she headed to the kitchen table to develop a line of healthy juices.
“I had to start small,” Maw said. “I had a few recipes I absolutely loved and I started delivering, to three clients – just three people – and they told everybody. A few months later I had 15 clients, still with that one juicer. I was doing all the shopping, juicing, delivering – it was 18 hours a day, crazy.”
Her first juice bar happened by accident, she said.
“One of our home delivery clients owns a yoga clothing company,” Maw said. “She was developing a corporate headquarters in Old Town Scottsdale and asked if I would put a juice bar in the front.” Kaleidoscope still operates that location, at First Avenue and Marshall Way.
A central production kitchen followed – in a former carpet store. There’s also a gluten-free bakery at the site. Another location, Optima, went into an apartment complex.
“The developer wanted us in there as an amenity,” Maw said. “It was a creative way for us to grow without financial backing.”
The next, Madison in Arcadia, was in a spin and yoga studio, a marriage of healthy eating and healthy activity.
At CASA, that pattern continues.
CASA is a space for businesses that want more than the traditional offerings. The designers “wanted to create an updated look and feel, centered around health and wellness,” Maw said. Kaleidoscope Juice was a perfect fit amid the upscale, millennial vibe of amenities including a gym, yoga room with Himalayan salt wall, meditation room, lounge areas, co-working space, dog run, library (with color-coordinated book covers) and two tranquil courtyards.
You could call it spiffy serenity.
Finding Kaleidoscope can be a challenge, requiring a walk through the lobby, then two courtyards. But the journey is worth it, bringing customers to a light, airy space with lounge chairs, moss wall, glass-walled private meeting space and a juice bar stocked with the makings for smoothies shakes and special coffees, as well as sandwiches and wraps.
Smoothies run from the esoteric – the Red Eye, blending banana, double espresso, adaptogenic mushroom blend, cacao, D ribose, almond milk, peanut butter and Sunwarrior Protein – to a simple banana, vanilla, peanut butter and almond milk combo. The Original Bulletproof Coffee is a blend of certified pesticide- and mold-free coffee blended with “brain octane” oil and grass-fed butter. If you have simpler tastes, a plain cup of organic is available.
There’s also solid food, including breakfast burritos and sandwiches, avocado toast – a customer favorite – and the acai bowl, a study in new age nutrition: acai berries blended with banana, blueberries, raspberries, almond butter, coconut oil, cinnamon, coconut water and trace minerals, topped with banana, strawberries, dragonfruit drizzle, house-made hemp granola, hemp seeds and shaved coconut.
For the uninitiated, reading the menu may require an interpreter, and Kaleidoscope’s friendly staff members are happy to define any unfamiliar terms.
Kaleidoscope at CASA is at 7878 N. 16th St., open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. For opening hours and information about catering and other locations, visit kaleidoscope.love or call 480-874-1524.