Looking to reset, reboot and reenergize after the holidays? A taste of the West Coast could do the trick and is closer than ever now that California-based Nékter Juice Bar has come to Charlotte.
Nékter was founded in 2010 and boasts locations in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Colorado and Washington State, with plans to expand nationally to 425 restaurants by 2020. The first East Coast locations opened in Cornelius and the South End neighborhood of Charlotte just a few weeks ago. They are both locally owned and operated by Dr. Todd Engel of the Engel Institute Dental Center and the Engel Dental Center in Charlotte.
Engel said he’s always been a fanatic about helping people be healthier and live longer, and decided it was time to make an impact outside of medicine. He started looking into several different juice bar franchises, but many used added color, sugar and preservatives in their menu items, which, as a dentist, he couldn’t support. Then he found Nékter – a brand free of fillers, added sugars, processed ingredients and artificial colors.
“Any sugar, whether natural or added, obviously needs to be cleaned off teeth, but if we’re talking about natural occurring sweeteners in fruits and veggies, those are much more conservative,” Engel said.
Each menu item at Nékter starts with a foundation of fresh juice and is designed to optimize overall health and wellness by feeding the body with essential vitamins and nutrients to increase energy, boost immunity, cleanse and detoxify. Customers can choose from six fresh juices and seven smoothies that can be customized based on individual diet or lifestyle preferences, such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, low fat and low sugar. Acai bowls can be customized with a variety of toppings ranging from fresh fruit to hempseed granola.
Nékter also offers one, two, three and five-day juice cleanses with premade juices customers drink on a set schedule throughout the day. Engel said those who cleanse feel an immediate difference inside their body and some even experience weight loss.
“It allows your body to totally reboot from toxins, from anything you have in your system that isn’t designed to be there like fast foods, too many carbohydrates and processed sugars,” he said. “It’s almost like turning off your computer and turning it back on again.”
For customers with a sweet tooth, Nékter offers Skoop – a frozen treat with a gelato-like texture. It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free and free of processed
fillers, artificial flavors and colors. Skoop flavors will rotate seasonally and now include Pumpkin Spice and Merry Mint (pure cocoa, cashew milk, honey, coconut palm sugar, agave nectar and sea salt with candy cane bits).
Engel plans to open as many as 17 Nékter Juice Bars in North Carolina and South Carolina in the next few years and said Charlotte’s South End neighborhood was the perfect place to start.
“The South End in general, and by no secret, has become a very popular area for a wide range of lifestyles, yet you see a lot of the local community is very health-conscious,” he said. “People are walking their dogs; walking their kids; walking with their significant other; they’re at the gym and doing yoga, so it’s just a highly-populated, active community.”
Kristin Vasko, 27, of Fort Mill, S.C., and Kayla Damron, 21, of Charlotte, are juice bar enthusiasts and decided to stop by Nékter just a few days after the Dec. 15 grand opening.
“We’ve probably hit up every juice bar. We love all of them,” Damron said.
“It’s great for breakfast, especially if you’re a clean eater,” Vasko added.
Both women ordered the Acai Superfood Bowl – a blend of açaí, banana, strawberry, blueberry, spinach, kale, chia seeds, and house-made cashew milk topped with hempseed granola, strawberries, blueberries, banana, goji berries, cacao nibs, hemp hearts, bee pollen and agave nectar. They also sampled the Merry Mint Skoop.
“It’s so good. It takes just like a Starbucks peppermint mocha,” Damron said.
Want to go?
Nékter in South End is located at 2725 South Blvd., Suite B, and is open Sunday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Cornelius location is at 19116 W. Catawba Ave., Suite B.