Jamba Juice, started by avid cyclist and health advocate Kirk Perron in 1990, has since taken over hip neighborhoods across the nation and the world. No proper college town can be found without one. Recently, the chain opened up shop in Downtown Columbia.
Students certainly aren’t feeling indifferent with the acquisition. The attractions vary from health to taste to simple brand-named smoothies, and college kids are extremely excited about the store. Jamba Juice’s modern-rustic décor cries out to the twenty-somethings, the neon sign set into the counter declaring “Squeeze the Day!” and setting the stage for all the hipsters and yoga girls to come.
Columbia was an obvious choice for former Anheuser-Busch President Dave Peacock, who bought the franchise rights to Missouri and Kansas. The demographic was prime.
College kids were clearly eager for some Caribbean Passion –– the most popular smoothie in Columbia –– which just so happens to also be the favorite smoothie of employee Kaitlyn George, a health science major at Mizzou.
“My favorite part of the job is definitely getting to try all the different smoothies we make,” she says as a straggling customer leaves happy with his Mega Mango smoothie. It’s nine at night and most of the typical Jamba customers have gone home for the day. What’s left is an eclectic grouping of the hangers-on of college life; a couple of frat boys, a photographer and an old man in a fisherman’s cap who sips his smoothie standing up.
George also explains that the store caters to other unexpected crowds, apparently Sundays after church are best spent at the Jamba Juice.
“We have a secret menu… and apparently everyone knows about it,” he says. “A lot of it is, like, made with yogurts and stuff so we can make (the smoothies) taste like candy.”
Jamba Juice is beneficial not only for the college kids who frequent it, but also for the community.
Jerry Amsler, the owner for Columbia’s Jamba Juice, counts 20 employees on staff when most stores only hire eight to ten.
The company also works with whatever community it inhabits for charity and awareness programs. Columbia’s Jamba Juice is already involved with multiple charities, including the Ronald McDonald House, a Rock’n’Roll Marathon, Camp Hope and multiple bike races and 5Ks. Amsler says he hopes to bring all the community action already in St. Louis to Columbia soon.
“We’ve been very well received, very busy, and we hope to continue to do so,” he says.
You can get your delicious and healthful smoothie on the corner of Tenth and Elm streets, underneath the Brookside apartments.