Organic Avenue is back in business.
Seven months after ceasing operations and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the New York City juice and food chain has re-opened its Bleecker Street location, with plans to re-open an additional five stores – in Midtown East, Bryant Park, Chelsea, Hudson, and 86th Street – in the coming month.
The resurrection of Organic Avenue sees the return of the company’s co-founder Denise Mari, who was brought back as CEO by Arrow Equity Fund and Fisher Capital Investments, the private equity firms that acquired Organic Avenue’s assets at auction for a reported $1.7 million in December 2015. Mari had been away from Organic Avenue since 2013, after she and fellow co-founder Doug Evans sold the company to investment firm Weld North, which tapped former Pret A Manger manager Martin Bates to run the business.
Since then, Mari has gone on to open Mari Manor, a Hampton’s B&B, while Evans famously started Juicero, a high-tech at home juicing play. Mari, who communicated with BevNET via e-mail, said she has plans to sell HPP juices as well as rebuild around a few retail locations.
Mari stressed that she had unfinished business at Organic Avenue, calling her return to the company under Fisher Capital Investments “a new opportunity for the company to do what I set out for it to do.”
Organic Avenue’s fortunes dwindled shortly after the sale to Weld North, and after store closures and layoffs of nearly a third of the company’s employees, in August of 2015, the investment group sold the company to Vested Capital Partners in a cashless deal of stock options, according to Racked. Two months later Organic Avenue filed for bankruptcy.
With the new investors on board, Mari said, “my initial focus is on opening the remaining retail locations that were acquired during the bankruptcy. We are launching five stores within the next month in total.”
“From there we’ll assess the opportunities for growth, plan and execute,” she added.“We have our eyes on additional retail locations in New York City, retail outside of New York City, a larger store concept, and national wholesale.”
The wholesale part of those plans will see Organic Avenue enter the high pressure processed (HPP) juice segment, as federal law prohibits the sale of raw juice to third party retailers. The ability to extend the shelf life of Organic Avenue products is also a move of note considering the issue of food waste, along with high real-estate costs was reported as the largest source of the company’s monetary losses.
As for changes to the company’s structure, Mari characterized Organic Avenue is now “a whole new company at the top level, with Fisher Capital Investments” but that there are many returning team members as well.
Finally, Mari hinted at the possibility of upcoming synergies between Organic Avenue and Juicero, the countertop cold-pressing juice system launched by Evans, the OA co-founder and Mari’s former boyfriend.
“It’s incredible what he’s done,” Mari wrote. “I love the product, have one, use it, love the convenience. I hope to share it via Organic Avenue in the near future.”