By Kristen Lofstrom.
“This is my happy place. I honestly don’t think of it as work,” Kendra Johnson responded when asked how many hours she spends creating recipes, greeting customers, picking up fresh produce, and all of the other seemingly endless tasks associated with opening and running the popular Juice Mill on the Bridgewater Town Common. It turns out the number is somewhere upwards of 70 hours each week. It will be a joy to watch the Juice Mill celebrate its first anniversary on February 24th and roll into 2018 as a successful business that strives to fuel residents on delicious and healthy juices, connections, and good vibes.
A graduate of UMass Boston, Kendra worked her way through college at a Quincy juice bar. The experience was priceless. After a May graduation and a summer spent reflecting on her future goals, she decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps (both are business owners in Scituate and Hanson) and abandon her criminal justice education for juicing. Growing up in her mom’s consignment shop instilled both an appreciation for hard work and a natural ability to connect easily with everyone who walks through the door.
Kendra’s passion for the Juice Mill is tangible. She is well known to the steady stream of regulars who frequent the Mill. Bridgewater State students; groups of elementary school children visiting on their beloved half-day of school; Girl Scouts working on Healthy Habit badges; and hungry moms and toddlers strolling in for a tide-me-over-til-dinner smoothie all make the Juice Mill a favorite place in town. Its central location offers the opportunity to bump into friends, local shop owners, thirsty Town Common shoppers, and to just spend time sipping and visiting. When asked about her choice of location, Kendra’s face lights up. “I drove all over the South Shore looking for the perfect space. When I discovered this downtown area, I knew right away it was perfect. The sense of community here is growing quickly, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Located on the historic town common, the Juice Mill fits perfectly in the former mill town. Wide pine floors, high ceilings, an eclectic décor, and warm greetings by the pleasant staff (more often than not Kendra herself ) immediately make customers feel welcomed and valued. Ceiling fans swirl slowly, music drifts from the small stereo situated on an antique table with funky glass knobs, and the hum of blenders and juicers mesh together to make it feel as though you are inhabiting a space that townspeople felt just as at home in over a century ago. An assortment of distressed wooden chairs and tables invite you to relax for a few minutes while your smoothie, juice, or made-to-order salad is being prepared with all-natural, fresh ingredients.
Questions are welcomed and encouraged, recipes chatted about, and the benefits of things like wheatgrass, acai bowls, and cleanse options are offered up on the artistic chalkboard walls. If you’re hesitant to try something new, simply share your reservation about trying a kale smoothie, and it can be tailored a bit to ease you into an appreciation for the powerful, antioxidant-loaded green. That’s not to say any tweaking is necessary (the Hulk is tasty!), but we have all experienced the hesitation associated with purchasing something you may not expect to savor. Kendra has been known to ask what your favorite fruits and veggies are and whip up something you’re sure to love.
What’s next for the Juice Mill? Yoga, nutrition, and health classes are expected to be regular events this winter, along with poetry readings, and paint nights. Construction of additional seating is underway and just in time for colder weather, making for comfortable, cozy gatherings complete with delicious seasonal recipes.
Connecting with local farmers and using as much locally grown produce as possible is another ambitious goal—and a fitting one for a town historically rooted in agriculture. (Cranberries are currently sourced from Kravitz Cranberry in Bridgewater and other produce from Two Friends Farm in Attleboro.) From the looks of things, Kendra Johnson isn’t one to be deterred by time constraints or hard work. Visit soon–you’ll be happy you did!
48 Central Square
Bridgewater, MA 02324
Kristen Lofstrom is a homeschooling, homesteading mother of three. She calls Once Upon A Farm in Halifax home and from there teaches creative writing to middle schoolers. A graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she enjoys teaching, growing, cooking, eating, and supporting all things local.