Greenheart Juice Shop opened its doors along Middleburg’s Washington Street on Saturday, the third location for co-owner Alicia Swanstrom’s nearly six-year-old business.
Greenheart now serves Loudoun’s southernmost town with popular menu items like cold-pressed juice that’s not pasteurized, smoothies, cashew milk and acai bowls. The shop’s Middleburg location follows the establishment of storefronts in Leesburg and Aldie—to be followed by a Georgetown location later this year.
But before Swanstrom, 32, made it to a point where she could expand Greenheart Juice, or even keep it afloat, she started off in an entirely different industry with hardly any money to get her business idea off the ground.
In late 2011, Swanstrom was working in public accounting and dating a military serviceman who was deployed in Afghanistan. Swanstrom said a week before her boyfriend was supposed to return home, he was killed in action. That prompted Swanstrom to quit her job and head off to school for journalism with a desire to write about health and wellness.
“When he was killed, I didn’t want to sit in my miserable job anymore,” she said, noting that she sought out different ways of feeling better following that life-changing event.
One of those techniques came in the form of changing what she ate and drank. Swanstrom said she noticed a difference in her mentality after switching to a plant-based diet. “I just had so much more energy and I felt so much more clear than I did beforehand,” she said.
That’s precisely what she wanted her new juice business to do—give people access to nutritional food and tips for a healthier lifestyle. So, in early 2014, she launched Greenheart Juice Shop, which she named in honor of her former boyfriend, Doug Green.
In the early stages, Swanstrom said it was difficult to get by with hardly any money, but eventually she was able to open a popup shop in Georgetown. “I took it step by step,” she said.
In March 2018, following the closing of that popup, Swanstrom opened the Leesburg Greenheart Juice Shop on Loudoun Street. She latermet Matt Cahir, the owner of the Middleburg Juice Company, after posting on Facebook that she was looking for investors.
“It was nice that the passion was already there for him,” Swanstrom said. “It felt like a good fit.”
Not long after that, Cahir found the Aldie location and the newfound team went to work moving in, which took less than a month to do.
Since then, Swanstrom and Cahir have done well enough to move into the 700-square-foot Middleburg storefront. Now, they’re focused on serving residents and visitors with different variations of smoothies, cold brew lattes from Lone Oak Coffee in Winchester, acai bowls and all kinds of juice, including their popular MJ green juice and Liquid Gold.
Swanstrom said Greenheart’s non-pasteurized juice has five times the amount of nutrients than juice that’s found in typical grocery stores. Because of its natural makeup, it has a three- to five-day shelf life.
Swanstrom said that beginning in September, she’ll also host talks and workshops focused on wellness, yoga, meditation, music, floral and juice in the 500-square-foot upstairs space.
“Community is obviously a big part of the business and what we’re passionate about,” she said. “To get to this point today, it’s felt like such a long time.”
The new Middleburg location also provides its customers with high speed internet access. “We want people to come here and feel like it’s their second home,” Swanstrom said.
Swanstrom and Cahir also focus on the environment, using biodegradable or compostable utensils, straws, bowls and cups, and sending the pulp from their juices off to local farmers to use as pig feed. “Anything you see that looks like plastic is plant-based,” Swanstrom said.
Town Administrator Danny Davis said the shop’s opening is providing residents with a different, and healthier, food option, “which is great to have.” “It’s helping expand that diversity,” he said.
Moving past their opening in Middleburg, Swanstrom and Cahir would like to eventually use Cahir’s 250-acre Aldie farm to grow produce and are preparing to open a new storefront in Georgetown toward the end of 2019. Swanstrom said they’re also eyeing shops in Vienna and Alexandria.
Greenheart Juice Shop Middleburg is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, go to greenheartjuiceshop.com.