COVID-Era Opening a Blockbuster No. 100 for Clean Juice
Former NFL player David Tyree and his wife, Leilah, are franchisees of Clean Juice in New Jersey.
Even while restaurant industry sales and traffic remain anemic because of COVID-19, Clean Juice blew the doors off its 100th location, with a little celebrity help.
David Tyree and his wife, Leilah, opened up the milestone store in New Jersey’s Morristown area. Football fans will know Tyree as the New York Giants’ wide receiver who made an incredible Super Bowl catch in 2008, pressing the ball against his helmet. His “Superbowl hero” status among fans certainly helped with the grand opening.
“Does it hurt to be a part of history here? No. I certainly played up who I was,” said Tyree, who signed a franchisee agreement with Clean Juice in 2019. “We had some help—my fellow teammate helped cut the ribbon and it set the tone. We had a line from 10 a.m. to close in the rain.”
He said the opening also represents a bit of a homecoming. Tyree's grandfather grew up in the area and he was excited to get back and support a community that has grown and become a lot more health conscious over the years. Tyree said he knew there was demand, but in the midst of a pandemic, they didn’t realize just how many people wanted the cold-pressed, organic juices, salads, acai bowls and toasts.
“I think there’s a little more pent-up demand than we were prepared for,” said Tyree. “We have a lively community in Morristown, and people are out and active. And you know there are people missing, so it’s really positive.”
He said one segment of the business was a big surprise: juice cleanses. The cleanses are not cheap, at $54 per day, and just as Tyree said they felt like they had the fridge under control, they sold 13 cleanses. Of course, that’s “a great problem to have,” he said.
Leilah Tyree, who is the day-to-day operator and details person for the location, said the pandemic has been challenging, but may have helped them slow down and open to that pent up demand with a little peace of mind, ramping up as people return to their normal habits.
“There has been a lot of feedback, like, ‘We’ve been waiting for something like this.’ That was very encouraging,” said Leilah. “I also feel like there’s this variable that we don’t even know what we’re dealing with yet because of the pandemic. So initially, we had finished building and then we’re closing up with infections and everything was put on hold. It was a tough spot to be in, we had not opened and then had to close.”
They'd only made one hire, their manager, so they didn't have to lay off or furlough a new staff. PPP dollars helped and the break “eased some of the tension to get the door open.”
When it did finally open, the Tyrees put their competitive spirits to work, and David Tyree said the expectation was to set the sales record. "I still believe in having a competitive attitude. And I wanted to set the record in a way where it was not attainable,” said David Tyree.
“They crushed the record,” said Clean Juice CEO and co-founder Landon Eckles of the $8,000 in sales in a single day, in the rain, during a pandemic, to blow past the previous record of about $6,300.
Eckles said the celebrity factors helped, as did celebrity friends.
“It definitely helps. That and Justin Tuck, his former teammate, he was No. 91 and he bought the first 91 cold press juices and gave them to customers. So that helped, too,” said Eckles.
Eckles noted the Tyrees are among a growing number of athletes and former athletes that have come to the brand. Some of Tyree's former teammates have already inquired about opening their own locations.