CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-based food franchise is growing, both despite, and because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Clean Juice just opened its 100th store.
Keeping it clean has been very good for business for a Charlotte-based juice company even during the pandemic.
“I think people are searching for healthier options, searching for options boost the immune system, CEO Landon Eckles said.
Eckles and his wife opened the first clean juice in Huntersville four years ago.
The first USDA certified organic juice bar, they now have 100 stores in 23 states.
But the last few months haven’t been a completely smooth ride.
“The pandemic has been a little bit of a challenge,” Eckles said.
They’ve had some supply chain issues, one store closed under the financial strain and there was a bit of a slow down in opening some new stores.
“Of course there were some health depts that weren’t operating and some things we had to be patient on but we’ve been blessed to open 5 or 6 in the last couple of months,” Eckles said.
April though was a tough month across the board.
“Our sales were down about 50 percent but we saw a big jump in may and then actually in June back to the levels of pre-pandemic,” Eckles said.
He thinks that’s because people are so focused on wellness and staying healthy right now.
“I think not just at clean juice but across us," Eckles said. "Organic produce sales are up double digits. I think people are searching for organic, things that are healthier and I think people are understanding we don’t have to wait to get sick to become healthy.”
In fact, the pandemic prompted a whole new line of menu options at Clean Juice geared towards boosting your immunity, which launches in a few weeks.
And they’ve just had new owners come on board planning to open four new locations in the coming year. He’s hopeful the supply chain that keeps things clean, the all-organic promise, will keep moving.
“It definitely is a challenge at times but its also our big differentiator. I like to say if it was easy everyone would do it," Eckles said.
One other store is still temporarily closed, that’s the one in uptown Charlotte, it was damaged in the riots and they’re still waiting to be able to replace the glass before they can re-open.