Photos by Asia Morris.
You know a city’s populace cares (or is starting to care) about their health and wellbeing when multiple cold-pressed juice companies are doing well enough to open brick-and-mortar locations in multiple districts.
Angela Almaguer, founder and owner of Salud Juice, Retro Row's most recent addition to the growing health-conscious economy, which opened its doors in early February, started making juices after she lost her uncle and almost lost her father to heart failure.
"It started because my uncle suffered from cardiac arrest and went into a coma for two years [...]then two weeks after he died my dad had a quadruple bypass, so it was a lot of heart issues. It started to make me think about the men in my family and how diet affects how they ended up."
With her father in recovery, Almaguer pounced on the opportunity to not only change his life for the healthier, but to start a new lifestyle for the entire family. Armed with a $5 Jack LaLanne juicer she'd found at a garage sale, she'd make him a drink every morning and the two would toast as a daily ritual, "Saludos a su salud," or "Cheers to your health," before downing the healthy concoction—whether it tasted good at the time or not.
Enter Salud Juice. After graduating from the LaLanne to a few, small cold-press juicers, Almaguer began experimenting with different flavors more intensely, and starting bringing the results along with her to her former workplace at Open Sesame. Her coworkers started asking her to make and even deliver the juices to them, in addition to when The Attic opened and founder Steve Massis asked for Salud Juice on the menu.
"As cliche as it sounds, it was very organically done. I wasn't even expecting it," Almaguer said giddily. As a history major with a teaching job lined up in Los Angeles, the soon-to-be entrepreneur was ready to pick up her things and leave for the angelic city, when she decided to take a chance on the business.
Now, having opened her doors barely over a month ago, the shop has generated a loyal following of neighborhood residents, friends and family. When asked if she had expected such strong and immediate support from the community, Almaguer could barely contain her enthusiasm.
"I can't believe it. We've only been open a month! Every day I'm like, 'Do you still like my juice? Please? Please come back!'" she laughed.
"It's been so fun," she continued. "There's so much love and so much support and I just- I forget that the love and support that you get, it keeps you going. Because when I was opening it was really scary and people were coming in and saying things like, 'You're doing great.'"
She paused, "Most of the stuff on the shelves are gifts," she pointed at the flowers, potted succulents and small mementos sitting as reminders of her Salud Juice and Long Beach family, "I'm on cloud nine."
As far as her practice is concerned, Almaguer found an interest in The Gerson Therapy, an all-natural treatment aimed at bolstering the body's ability to heal itself through an organic, plant-based diet and other natural supplements. Always the obsessed academic, Almaguer "watched a lot of documentaries and read up on The Gerson Therapy. He's cured people of terminal cancer that way, so I did a lot of research on why cold-pressed [juice] is better and I just stuck with it."
Salud Juice ingredients are sourced from local, organic farmers who bring their goods to the local farmers markets, while the produce is selected from organic farms in an effort to ensure no pesticides or chemicals have been used. The juices are alive and unpasteurized, meaning a Salud Juice will last up to four days.
On Rainbow Juices and the current uptick of budding health-minded small businesses, Almaguer sees a bright future ahead for Long Beach.
"It's like a revolution for us,” she explained. “I love it, and especially because they're across the street from a WalMart, you know? It just shows how Long Beach is going. Because now they're coming in and spreading health instead. We're across the street from a Papa Johns. It's awesome, I hope it keeps going that way."
"I believe in the growth here,” she grinned. “I believe in it!"