Restaurateur Michael Chernow, co-founder of New York City restaurants The Meatball Shop and Seamore’s and host of the FYI Network’s “FoodPorn”, is getting into the cold-pressed juice business, and he’s doing it with a host of food industry veterans.
Chernow’s latest venture will be at WellWell, a new high pressure processed (HPP), USDA organic-certified and Non GMO Project-verified juice featuring watermelon, tart cherry and lemon. Chernow will have the undefined title of Chief Culture Officer. The brand is currently making its debut at 33 Whole Foods Markets in the grocer’s northeast region, where it retails for $4.99 per 12 oz. bottle.
The product’s the brainchild of the company’s CEO Sagan Schultz, a sommelier with a clinical background in health and wellness, who first formulated the beverage as a post-workout recovery drink. Schultz and Chernow are joined by creative director Collin Hughes and COO Larry Praeger, who is also CEO at Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods and son of the frozen foods company’s founder Peter Praeger.
“Most hydration beverages are just electrolytes and water, which is why I developed [WellWell] as an alternative product that offered additional benefits beyond just hydration,” Schultz told BevNET Thursday.
Schultz says the brand will be one centered around that theme of function and sports recovery, a distinction he believes will separate it from the increasingly crowded cold-pressed juice marketplace.
“We view juice as the vehicle to the outcome of what happens when you drink it,” Schultz added. “There are tons of juices on the shelf with ingredients that are supposed to be good for you but for me, that wasn’t good enough. For us, with the amounts of [organic tart cherry, organic watermelon, lemon] that we put in our bottle, we can tell you what it’s going to do for you because it’s been studied in humans in clinical trials in sports recovery.”
Those benefits include the anti-inflammatory properties of WellWell’s concentrated form of tart cherry, the amino acid L-citrulline of watermelon, and the flavonoids and vitamin C of its “biodynamic” lemon.
While Chernow told AM New York that “there are very few watermelon-based beverages on the market today,” the subset within the juice category has seen a fair share of activity of late. Along with fellow New York City-based HPP brands like WTRMLN WTR and H2 Melon, maple water company Drinkmaple recently introduced DrinkMelon, a shelf stable watermelon juice beverage, as its first line extension.