Hiring the right people makes for a "unique culture and environment."
A few days ago I was headed to one of my old standby restaurants Santa Fe on the upper West Side in Manhattan and came across the construction of a soon to open Joe & the Juice around the corner. This is a chain from Denmark that you should be watching. Their approach is a bit different and designed for a younger hipper customer who is equally concerned about the experience as they are the food. Yes the food, coffee and juices are important – they specialize in fresh - but the ambiance is their magic. This could well be the Starbucks killer at a time where the coffee chain seems to be faltering.
Their staff selection and training is focused on upbeat conversation and an energy that is all about relating to customers. They don't hire staff - they cast them online (#joecastings). Music plays a huge part of their concept and their staff create their own mixes and music. Joe & the Juice is all about the holistic experience. Their website spotlights Joe & the Juice associates and their life stories and music through videos that gives us an insiders look at what the next generation is all about - concern about the environment, the world and each other...and lots of fun at the same time. There is even a free photo booth.
Kaspar Basse, the founder and drive behind the chain, is a former professional karate champion from Denmark; he wants the chain to become the “go-to place for health-conscious people who like their fresh-pressed juice served with a side of edgy”. He says hiring the right people " brings such a unique culture and environment," and are encouraged to be themselves in how they dress and talk, and even to play their own music and bring their personalities to work. They aren’t hired, they are “cast” just as an actor might be, and they are tested in social, personal, and physical tests ranging from how fast they can work to how well they can banter with the customers.
The offerings include coffee, tea, sandwiches, fresh juices, smoothies, and veggie shots made with organic ingredients and all prepared in the store. Their juices include recipes for all occasions of everyday life including: Pick Me Up (raspberry, banana, apple), Heartbeet (beetroot, avocado, banana, pineapple, apple) Go Away Doc (carrot, apple, ginger), and Sex Me Up (passion fruit, apple, ginger). Their sandwiches, mostly on a grilled foccahia type bread include typical fare like turkey, chicken and tuna often with avocado and pesto.
Why should you be watching them? They have more than 170 restaurants in 14 countries. There are currently five U.S. stores in San Francisco, New York City, and Miami; with a few hundred more slated to open in the U.S. This is a great concept and targeted to a consumer base who wants more than what your typical juice or coffee bar is offering them - a place to call their own. All foodservice operators and supermarkets, especially those with grocerants, need to take heed.
Originally published on Forbes.com.