Three Clean Juice franchises are opening “in Minneapolis,” the first of which just opened in… Edina.
Trumpeting the very specific qualifier “first and only national USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise,” Monday’s geographically confused press release announced that the first location will celebrate its grand opening on October 16 at 3943 Market St.—the high-end pedestrian mall tucked behind 50th & France. The release failed to note the two most interesting elements of Clean Juice: all the Jesus stuff throughout the shop and the national spokesman, Jesus-loving athlete Tim Tebow.
Racket dispatched its smoothie/religion reporter to investigate the juices and sandwiches, plus the “leading organic fast-casual” brand’s purported in-store prayer jar. Verdict: The $11 sandwich (no chips or pickle) was forgettable, while the $10 fresh juices were delightful.
And the God stuff? Abundant, not unlike His grace. A Bible verse (3 John 1:2) is scrawled across the plastic cups; the prayer jar is, in fact, quite real; Tebow smiles from promotional material behind the register; and the limited merch rack includes a T-shirt reading “I RUN ON JESUS & JUICE.”
“When we don’t take care of ourselves, what we’re really saying to God is, ‘This temple, this vessel you gave us? It’s really not that important,’” Tebow claims on a recent Clean Juice podcast. Tebow’s point, not unlike his football passes, somewhat misses its target, especially as it relates to the interconnection between lower incomes and poorer nutrition—$12 smoothies are modern-day indulgences, following Tebow’s brand-plugging logic.
Launched in 2014 by God-fearing millennials Landon and Kat Eckles, Clean Juice has expanded aggressively (100+ locations), proselytizing to potential franchisees about the benefits of organic food/drink and, well, religion. It was enough to sell Sherri Fink, the former flight attendant who’s now piloting the Edina location.
“Sherri’s passion for her faith, family, and healthy living is exemplary of what we look for in our franchise partners,” Landon says in a statement. “While she may not have direct food experience, she possesses the passion, drive, and servant’s heart inherently needed to succeed as a Clean Juice franchise partner.”
Christian messaging is, of course, not new in the restaurant game. Chick-fil-A exists “to glorify God,” according to its corporate values page, and caught a whole mess of shit in 2012 for funding anti-LGBT groups; In-N-Out Burger also splashes Bible verses on some of its packaging. Our cursory online vetting of the Eckleses didn’t unearth any arch-conservative beliefs, though Kat has 5G paranoia, MMR vaccine skepticism, and will adopt anybody’s baby. The latter is a nice, if impractical, gesture.
Based on the snaking line of unmistakable Edina moms waiting in line to slurp smoothies, the prosperity gospel may well smile upon Fink’s Clean Juice. The North Carolina-based company ranked at No. 3,745 on Inc.’s list of the 5,000 fastest growing private U.S. companies. (Several in-house amateur analysts expect Racket to crack the top 1,000 next year.)