This month downtown Frederick can look forward to some “fresh squeezed comfort food” with the opening of the new Juice Plate restaurant in the old Moxie location on the north end of Market Street.
What is fresh squeezed comfort food? According to the woman opening Juice Plate, Pattee Brown (co-founder of the Frederick Gorilla and host of “Frederick’s Forum,” Saturdays on WFMD-AM radio) — “it’s all about balance.” She’s never going to tell you that the food she makes is healthy, but said it is certainly a lot healthier than many of the alternatives. Juice Plate will offer fresh squeezed juices, smoothies, wraps, leafwiches and sammees (Juice Plate creations), chopped salads and soups. Brown describes the new eatery as somewhere you can bring friends and everyone will find something they want to eat (or drink).
She also doesn’t intend to alienate the people who live close by. Brown said the foods available at Juice Plate will be recognizable and affordable. She wants to give the folks living and working on that side of town a healthy alternative to a daily trip to Taco Bell or McDonalds.
Just like the location’s predecessor, this new restaurant will be a social enterprise. It is the offspring of a pact between Brown (of Rockwood Brown LLC) and organic farmer Michael Dickson, CEO of Seed of Life Nurseries, Inc., a local and organic farm. Seed of Life aims to empower at-risk youth in low income communities through active participation in a local food system, and help low income community members understand the links between farming, food, health and their local economy.
It is that mission that makes them a perfect partner for Brown’s new endeavor. She had originally planned to open her juice bar in another section of town, but was approached by Ryan Trout, special projects manager for Frederick City’s housing authority, and asked to consider the available site in the Bernard Brown Community Center. She had intended to open a juice bar with a focus on locally grown produce and Seed of Life is a local farm that also has programs to benefit kids in underserved communities. Brown jumped at the challenge of moving her project into the nonprofit world.
Her business plan is to make Juice Plate a self-sustaining enterprise within three years. At that three year mark, the restaurant will revert to Seed of Life ownership. They will get the “keys to the castle” as Brown put it. In the interim, Brown will manage the project and cultivate the brand to ensure Juice Plate will continue to be a commercial and nonprofit concern. Dixon said this partnership is a self-sustaining model that allows Seed of Life to profit from their efforts and allows them to put that money right back into their nonprofit programs.
In addition to being an eatery and social enterprise, Juice Plate will also be a community art space. Brown has had several artists come in to help her cover the walls with murals. For those not interested in making the walk up to 629 N. Market Street, Brown said that the eatery will deliver and will also have designated parking across the street. Juice Plate is scheduled to open some time this month, the exact date will be announced soon.
Editor’s Note: Sarah Withers is the owner of Taste Frederick Food Tours. She enjoys eating her way through Frederick County’s food scene and is eager to try wheat grass for the first time when Juice Plate opens. You can find her tweeting about all things food and Frederick at @TasteFrederick.