Jay’s Juices is no ordinary juice bar. I went in for the first time for a liquid pick-me-up, and left an hour later with dried fruit energy balls and a back massage.
That’s because Jay’s Juices has no ordinary owner. Jay Garrido arrived in Amsterdam from Aruba in 1978, aged 21. He was unable to find a fulfilling job and became involved in drugs and alcohol. This deteriorated into almost 20 years of addiction.
One night, Jay had a dream about his grandmother who showed him a white feather. “I started cycling around looking for the feather. People thought I'd flipped,” he told me. After three days of searching, he came to a farm and found the feather on a rooster. “I thought, look at him, he is so happy. He doesn’t need anything. I'm abusing drugs, drinking, I'm not happy. I don't want this anymore.”
He kicked the addictions with the help of a friend and various liquid and cleansing diets. This inspired him to open Jay’s Juices on Haarlemmerstraat.
The fruit and vegetables Jay uses are not exclusively organic, but are bought fresh from the market every day. The drinks menu, which includes everything from a basic orange juice to vitamin-rich blends made with ginger, beetroot, spinach and broccoli, is chalked up on a red board on the wall. Colourful names like Arubariba and Rastafari Vibes are reminders of his tropical roots.
One of Jay’s bestsellers is wheatgrass, trays of which fill the cellar. When business is slow, he can often be found down here tending the green shoots. The only solids on sale are dehydrated fruits and the home-made energy balls he insisted I try.
Now in his fifties, Jay says he finally feels fulfilled and spreads his newfound love of life through his freshly squeezed drinks. He has built a base of regular customers and greets each one with a bellow of recognition. Or, if they come in looking down, a pep talk or an invigorating back massage. It’s an unorthodox approach to customer service, but one that doesn't seem to do his business any harm.
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