…the natural fast food

An orange slice hangs in Los Angeles on May 6, 2021. Photo illustration by Katya Castillo.

Joe Stepanian opens up The Real Juicery every morning with color on his mind.

Lemons, oranges and apples are washed and hung in baskets. The colors act as decoration and double as a preview of the fresh offerings that are placed in each cup.

Watermelons, celery and cucumbers are washed and soaked before being cut and placed in bins ready for the day. His station looks like an exotic salad bar with kale, spinach, turmeric, ginger and pineapples. 

Stepanian worked in his home lab for more than a year to develop the juicing recipes sold at his store, which he opened in March at Sherman Way and Remmet Avenue, about a five-minute drive from Pierce College. The Real Juicery serves smoothies, acai bowls and concoctions blended with 100% juices.

“With just the fruits and vegetables, you’d be surprised. A lot of people think they need the yogurt, the sugars this and that. Just the fruit itself tastes amazing,” Stepanian said. 

Stepanian’s use of technology and delivery services is built into his marketing plan.

“GrubHub, Uber Eats, Postmates and DoorDash. After it’s set up, it’s super easy,” he said. “I just turn on the tablet and then it’s all automatic.”

Stepanian’s research has taught him about the unique taste of each ingredient, which he uses to make his combinations of fruits and healthy greens. He does all of this without added sugars or fillers.

“We have one recipe that has spinach, watermelon, lemon, banana, strawberry and pineapple. It’s like a little sweet and sour drink,” he said. “Nobody even notices the lemons or the spinach in there. So it’s very, very easy to drink your greens. And when you top it off with the bananas, strawberries and the granola it is way easier even for the kids to eat or drink.”

Grace Kilzi has been coming to The Real Juicery for more than a year. She has juiced for most of her adult life. Her favorite order is Stepanian’s Turmeric Ruby.

“I just make sure everything is the right thing that goes in my body,” she said. “I’m the only one that can control it, so I can go to Joe’s and get that Turmeric Ruby and have the spinach, kale and everything in it. I see people on TV and they’re my age. I’m like, wow, are you 56 or 1,000? It all comes from what you put in your body. You really have to be in control of your health.”

According to the Center for Disease Control, less than 10% of adult Americans eat the recommended nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day.

Rhonda Kidd has been a clinical nutritionist at O2 Body Clinic for more than 15 years. She sees the difference in her patients who juice.

“When you’re stressed out, you stray away from foods that are good for you,” Kidd said. “And you usually go to comfort foods, right? Sugary, salty, savory, stuff like that. The taste, a lot of times, is something that is derived from deficiencies.”

This is where Stepanian said his offerings differ from many popular juiceries.

Spinach, kale, apples and cucumbers spill out of a cup from The Real Juicery in Canoga Park, Calif., on May 7, 2021.
Photo illustration by Katya Castillo.

“They have too many toppings, yogurt, condensed milk, Nutella or whatnot,” he said. “It’s weird when customers see the toppings or when they see the ingredients. It’s like they expect something sweeter. But then they taste it and just keep coming back. At that moment, they realize it is something special. It’s something different.”

Kidd said that juicing can benefit people who struggle with proper nutrition.

“There’s a detoxing aspect to juicing as well, because, like with fasting, you’re still getting the nutrients,” she said. “It’s in a liquid form. It’s more readily absorbable by your body because it’s going directly into the system. Juicing is less likely to have anything that needs to be broken down.”

Stepanian said his base is growing, and he plans to spread his healthy options by opening  another store in Santa Clarita. 

“It’s a good feeling all around,” he said. “The person getting it feels good, you feel good serving it to the person. It’s just a happy place for me to be.”