Taking root: Juice bar offers healthy food option in downtown Garden City

Alicia Gian-Maciulis offers a variety of cold-pressed juices and other drinks and foods designed to improve health and wellness at Roots Juice Co. and Wellness Studio in downtown Garden City.
By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a month-long series called the 25 Days of Downtown Christmas that will highlight the fantastic selection of retailers in downtown Garden City.

After an 18 month process, including a complete remodel of a 1907 building that originally housed a mercantile shop, Roots Juice Co. and Wellness Studio opened on Sept. 30 at 216 N. Main St.

The business offers cold-pressed juices, organic teas and coffee, super food smoothies and other drinks and foods designed to improve health and wellness. Roots also includes a yoga studio that offers classes at a variety of times each day. At the very back of the store is an enclosed, outdoor patio area that can be used as an outdoor yoga studio or just to sit outside.

Owner Alicia Gian-Maciulis said the goal is to help customers build a balanced and healthy lifestyle through nourishing the whole body, mind and soul.

“The name of the business came from several things. It came from us wanting to put down roots; it came from me coming back to my roots; it came from the actual roots and fruits put into the juices; and in yoga you are constantly talking about rooting yourself in a pose. So it was just roots, roots, roots,” Alicia said. “And when you’re talking about the ‘root of the problem’ it’s not the leaf or the fruit that determines the health of the plant, it’s the actual root of the plant.”

The building’s original 1907 pressed tin ceiling tiles were incorporated into Roots’ bar.

Back to the ‘Roots’

Gian-Maciulis also tried to re-use as much of the ‘roots’ of the building as possible. She incorporated the original pressed tin ceiling tiles into the bar and used the wooden doors from upstairs that had been made in the 1940s for the shop’s tables and countertop.

Born and raised in Garden City, Gian-Maciulis is a graduate of Garden City High School and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in vocal performance and theater from the University of Kansas.

While doing a year of graduate work at KU in directing, she was introduced to yoga as a means of helping prepare actors’ for the stage. During this period, she participated in an international theater festival and traveled to Lithuania where she met her husband, Marius, an actor/director there.

Gian-Maciulis moved to Lithuania in 2007 and finished her master’s degree in directing and actor training at the University of Exeter in England. As professional actors/directors, she and her husband always were looking for ways to fuel and energize themselves.

“In Lithuania, a lot of juice bars popped up and we started juicing. We got a juicer as a wedding gift and started doing that to feel more fueled,” she said.

Eventually, Gian-Maciulis found an Ayurveda kitchen. Ayurveda, which translates to the science of life, is the sister nutrition science to yoga. When she and Marius were ready to start a family, Alicia desired to live closer to her family back here. They moved back to Garden City three years ago and have a daughter, Sofia, who turns two this month.

“We were ready to kind of let go of that very hectic lifestyle and literally put down some roots and start a family,” she said, adding that they worked at her family’s business, Naab Electric, for awhile before deciding to start Roots.

Mind-Body Connection

In theater, Gian-Maciulis said, the mind and body are connected. That’s the approach she takes personally: one can’t exercise but not eat well, or eat well and do nothing with the body, and expect the body to feel energized. Both mind and body go together, she said, which is why the juice bar and yoga studio were so important.

“When we got here, so much of the self-care things we were used to, things that gave us energy, especially the healthy food options were non-existent so I started juicing at home again,” she said. “There were a lot of wellness communities online but there wasn’t a physical place where you could come. Roots was something we talked about to have an actual home for wellness for people to come in and fuel their bodies, their minds and their souls.”

The response to the juice bar has been phenomenal. Gian-Maciulis estimated that in the first month, Roots pressed more than 10,000 pounds of produce into juice. She added that one 8 oz bottle requires around 1.5 to 2.5 pounds of produce to make, and a 16 oz bottle of juice requires anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds of produce.

“I think people are really ready for a healthy food option, and the convenience of that. Because if you are trying to eat healthy at home, it takes a lot of time to do that prep work. This offers people a chance to keep themselves fueled on the go,” she said.

Roots uses a Goodnature press, one she called the “Cadillac” of juicers and the only one of its kind in Kansas at the moment. Cold-press juicing is a technology that has been developed in roughly the last five years.

Originally, it was designed by medical researchers as a way to help people with compromised digestive systems who have trouble breaking down food to get as many nutrients and live enzymes into their bodies.

“It retains five times more nutrients and enzymes than any other type of juicing,” she said.

Gian-Maciulis said most food today is highly processed which allows it to sit on a shelf for a long time. But that process kills live enzymes which clean the body and provides energy.

Produce is fed into a hopper at the top of the machine, falls into a blade and gets chopped up and then is held in a mesh bag while a vise squeezes out the juice. The soluble pulp is retained and the liquid elixir is bottled for consumption.

The line of products include cold pressed juices, season blends, wellness shots, superfood smoothies and boosts, activated drinks, organic coffee and wellness teas.

Each fruit and vegetable has a function in the juices. For example, green colored juices are used in detoxification, beets help blood and heart health, the “liquid sunshine” is for inflammation and hydration, “24K” is for immunity and metabolism boosting, while “Einstein” has blueberry in it which is great for brain health.

Roots also offers seasonal blends. The winter seasonal is called  Winter Pearadise which includes a mix of pear, pomegranate, apple, spinach, and ginger.

Wellness shots are concentrated juices that are used to address a variety of wellness needs, while superfood smoothies and superfood boosts are made from some of the most nutrient rich foods on earth.

“Every flavor has its function. The idea being, whatever you put into your body is fuel for your body,” she said.

Gian-Maciulis explains the cold-press juicing process to a customer at Roots Juice Co.

Healthy food options

Roots has also started offering more food options like soups, superfood toasts, energy bite balls, humus, and nut mixes. Gian-Maciulis said Roots is a work in progress and loves getting feedback about their menu from customers.

“Our menu is ever-changing. If people love things and don’t want it taken off the menu, we won’t,” she said.

Gian-Maciulis said people come in and talk about how great they feel after incorporating juices and Roots’ other products into their lifestyles.

“This is not addicting, but what they are addicted to is the feeling they get when putting live food into their body. They are not used to it because so much has been processed. We want people to feel happy and healthy,” she said.

Roots currently has five yoga instructors, two part time juicers, two preppers and six baristas. They are starting a holiday promotion with daily specials leading up to Christmas

Roots hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Roots has a Facebook page and also a website, www.rootsjuiceco.com, with additional information about its menu and yoga classes.

People can also access yoga schedule and sign up for classes through an app called Mindbody, which acts like a virtual punch card. Through the app, people can buy passes or sign up for a membership.