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Evanston embraces smoothie craze with two new stores

From personalized nutrition to college hangouts: Evanston’s smoothie scene gets a boost
Blended Health & Smoothie Bar aims to provide customers with healthy foods that complement their fitness goals.

Smoothies, long touted as the perfect healthy snack, are a frequent sight in Evanston. From professionals carrying their morning drink on the way to work to students carrying the beverage around campus, smoothies are popular among Evanstonians. Two new smoothie stores, Blended Health & Smoothie Bar and Jamba (formerly titled Jamba Juice), have opened in Evanston in the past year and a half, further promoting the drink.

Blended opened on Central Street in Northwest Evanston in May 2022. Serving as the second location of the store, the other being in Glenview, the Evanston branch aims to grow a community around the love of the smoothie.

“Everyone that walks in that door, we treat as family, we get to know them, their name, their life story,” said Sam Dexter, the Area Operations Manager for Blended. “And that way, when they come in, they feel like we know them. Especially when we remember their orders or recent events in their life.”

The store is decorated with inspirational messages, modern seats and warm lighting. This decor, which was carefully thought out, aims to cultivate a welcoming atmosphere. On offer are also other smoothie alternatives, still based on fresh ingredients, such as waffle bowls and cold-pressed juices. Blended is also dairy and gluten-free, and their products are free of preservatives. All of this goes towards creating a healthy, fitness-supporting menu.

In addition to healthy menu options, Blended also offers personalized food choices.

“When people come in and ask what the best post-workout [snack or meal] is, we are knowledgeable so that we can actually give them recommendations based on what their workout was,” said Dexter, who has a nutritionist certification as well as a background in nutrition-based fitness.

While she admits that coffee can be a good go-to, she highlighted the benefits of smoothies over alternative beverages.

“Our smoothies are low calorie, but high protein, so you’re gonna feel your body better than just going and picking up a coffee,” said Dexter.

Across Evanston, Jamba, located in the middle of Downtown Evanston, isn’t necessarily new to the city. Previously, there was a branch of the smoothie shop in town, but it closed in 2015. This past summer, a new branch opened, just two blocks away from its previous location. Jamba is a chain smoothie shop, with over 750 locations in the U.S.

“I’m not surprised that a chain is taking advantage of the student population, especially being so close to [the Northwestern campus],” said Posey, an employee at the local branch.

Jamba serves a variety of foods, from smoothies to bowls to sandwiches.

The menu at Jamba includes many kinds of smoothies, bowls, sandwiches and snacks. While many are willing to pay comparatively large amounts of money for a smoothie, others are more skeptical.

“I think the experience is okay so far. I just wish drinks weren’t as expensive; the price feels a little excessive at times,” said one customer. “More seating would be nice, but this is usually a pickup-and-leave place, so it makes sense.”

As a result of Jamba’s proximity to Northwestern University, many of the customers are college students. For Posey, the difference between students and Evanston residents is stark.

“I think there can be a little bit of a disconnect between the students and Evanston’s community,” she said. “Working here, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of people who live in Evanston and [I’ve] realized how severe the disconnect is. I think that having a business that’s more local to rely on as students will make that relationship stronger.”

Both Blended and Jamba aim for the same goal, to serve customers healthy drinks and snacks. As long as people continue to prioritize fresh, nutritious foods, smoothie shops should be around for a while to come.

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About the Contributor
Natalie Weinert
Natalie Weinert, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Natalie Weinert (she/her), and I am a staff writer for The Evanstonian. I am a freshman, so this is my first year being part of the paper. I am writing for The Evanstonian to improve how I collaborate with people in a team setting, to learn about useful skills and journalism in general, and to have fun with the new people I meet! I play volleyball at ETHS, and I might join other clubs or sports teams as the year goes on. In my free time, I enjoy being with family and friends, playing sports, traveling, reading, and watching TV.
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