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Photo by Katie Forbes.

Anything You Can Do Ve-Gan Do Better

Nourish. Heal. Cleanse. This is the motto of & Juice Co. (Yes, the ampersand is the beginning of the name.) What originally started as a kale chip company, U+Kale, has grown into three restaurant locations in the greater Columbus area. The rustic and mainmast atmosphere has an instant calming effect. There is an open floor plan with couches, and comfy seats bedecked with throw pillows line the walls. The café-like environment lends itself well to a quick lunch or brunch escape with friends or coworkers.

Spouses Eliah Thomas-Stephenson and Tara Stephenson, the owners and creative minds behind & Juice Co, have drawn from their personal backgrounds and understanding to create a vegan food experience that is imaginative, nourishing, and most of all delicious.

In addition to offering a wide variety of dairy- and meat-free meals, & Juice Co. offers a line of cold pressed juices that are available at variety of locations, including the new Short North Charles Penzone location. If you’re interested in hitching a ride on the cleanse train, & Juice Co. has created an array of juices that can be used in conjunction with a cleanse, which is really a fast.

The purported health benefits of periodic cleanses has lead to their popularity among those striving for lifelong vigor. Purchasing a cleanse means receiving a varied, two-day supply of juices, intended to stand in for solid food. This regimen eliminates the need for an extensive grocery produce run, specific juicing hardware, and the messy process of creating liquid concoctions in conjunction with your goal.

Besides aiming to be delicious and nutritious, & Juice Co. operates with minimal food waste in mind. The tasty and inventive carrot lox with capers is made by using the carrot pulp that is leftover from the juicing process for one of their many cleanses. Eliah explains that the & Juice Co kitchen is more like a lab, where the chefs experiment with new flavor combinations, often inspired by non-vegan dishes.

When asked about her history with and inspiration behind her vegan creations, Tara explained how she developed a taste for vegan food as an athlete growing up in a traditional southern black household, complete with calorie-packed southern cuisine. Though it was delicious, she felt that the traditional southern food she grew up with did little to help her athletic abilities. And from there a passion for clean food was born. This passion eventually led Tara to Washington D.C., where she worked with public school food programs, helping to craft healthier school lunches for the community.

Eliah grew up in a decidedly different environment. Coming from a Syrian family, dairy-free and meat-free meals were a regular family feature and she didn’t think much of it until noticing how differently her schoolmates ate. As she grew up, Eliah found a passion for marrying the cultures she grew up in through food. With a smile on her face, Eliah describes the satisfaction she gets from challenging herself to take snacks that people love and turning them vegan.

Whether guests stop in to sample something sweet or savory, or grab a quick snack or a filling meal, the goal at & Juice Co. is to leave their customers feeling satisfied, but not weighed down. Having a multitude of delicious options at one’s fingertips makes trying out different ways of eating a little more approachable, and a little more exciting.

“Food and flavors can change and evolve constantly,” she explains. “We don’t have recipes written down anywhere, which is why you may order the same dish over and over, but will always get something just a little new and different, which is one of the things that makes this
place so special.”

Visit the new location for & Juice Co. on 4494 N. High St or check out their website at andjuiceco.com.

Story by Katie Forbes.