A Place to Gather

Tacoma natives Sean and Gretchen Doyel didn’t have a lick of restaurant ownership or food service experience between them, but they did have a great idea: Open a juice and smoothie bar in town to offer options that are healthy, fresh, fast, and available to everyone. Gather Juice Co. opened on Sixth Avenue on Monday, Aug. 12, and the reception the Doyels have received from their community is an indication that Tacoma wanted this as much as they did.

“We’ve been on an evolving journey with food over the past few years,” Sean said of  the couple’s eating habits. “When we first met, the only things Gretchen ate were popcorn, coconut popsicles, and apples.”

Gretchen explained that Sean was going through what she referred to as a “gym phase,” and the only things he would eat were broiled chicken and steamed broccoli.

Needless to say, the couple needed some to make some serious improvements in their relationship with food. So they began focusing on health and wellness, transforming their eating habits, and taking steps that would lead to the opening of their new business.

In 2017, the couple took a trip to Bali. There were freshly squeezed juices, smoothie bowls, and hearty salads available on every corner. Gretchen said she actually came home skinnier after the two-week trip. They had discovered a diet that worked for them on the other side of the Pacific, but when they returned home, they realized nothing of the sort existed in Tacoma.

Gretchen and Sean explained that these types of businesses can be found in the Pacific Northwest; they’ve been proven to be successful in cities like Seattle and Portland, but it hadn’t yet been done in Tacoma. “We should be able to have that, too,” Gretchen said. “If Seattle can have 12 [juice bars], we can have one.”

So the wheels began to turn. The couple bought a juicer, and began fine-tuning recipes for their industrious plan: creating their own Bali-inspired juice bar.

The couple secured a lease in what used to be Tacoma Thrift and Consignment Store next to Shakabrah Java. The space is nearly unrecognizable, as it transformed from cluttered and eclectic to minimalist and chic. The exterior of the building has been freshly painted in a clean black and white; and the interior boasts high ceilings, industrial accents, sleek wood furnishings, and a plethora of plants from The Fernseed in Proctor. The millennial pink tiles lining the counter and the visually stunning mandala, painted by local artist Molica Chau, are decorative tributes to the trip that inspired the store.

The menu is currently somewhat limited, with only juices and smoothies being offered at this time. Sean explained that the menu rollout was intentionally slow. “We kept it minimal to ensure people have a good experience,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re doing these things right before we add more.”

Seven raw, cold pressed juices are currently available. Our favorites are Roots; a blend of smooth beet, a hint of carrot, apple, lemon, and ginger, and Night Vision; showcasing strong carrot, sweet apple, and spicy ginger. There also are six smoothie flavors to try. The Blueberry Zucchini and Strawberry Banana Coconut have been a hit so far. Additionally, Gather is serving up Bluebeard Coffee from the roaster down the street.

On the horizon, Gather will offer Instagram-able smoothie bowls, increased flavors of juices and smoothies, wellness lattes with turmeric and cardamom, avocado toast with a cashew-based chipotle aioli, and three types of salads with home-made dressing. They hope to continue to partner with local businesses on these additions and offer ingredients made from scratch whenever possible, including possibly hand-made almond milk — if they can meet the demand.

“So far, there has been two to three times more business than we’ve expected,” Sean said. Although they’ve brought on four part-time employees, they’ll likely have to do additional hiring if they want to keep up with the onslaught of customers. “It’s the best problem to have,” Sean added.

Gretchen said she’s been overwhelmed with all of the support from the community at the shop and on social media. “It’s so great to see that people are as excited as I am,” she said. “We took a risk, and it was worth it.”

Follow Gather Juice Co. on Instagram for updates and hours, and visit the shop at 2612 6th Ave., Tacoma.

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