On holiday in Sydney, Shelley Empson stumbled across a juice bar, and less than twelve hours later had already visited three times. The juice bar was Cali Press, and Empson saw an opportunity. “I thought ‘if I’m going there three times a day, then surely there are other people doing that as well,’” she told Restaurant & Café.
Empson, along with business partner and long-time friend Chris Monaghan, went to Cali Press with a proposal to bring the concept across the Tasman. “They’d had offers before to do Cali Press as a franchise, but they weren’t interested,” explained Empson. “We were there at the right time with the right ideas.” With sound commercial backgrounds and industry knowledge, Empson and Monaghan were able to persuade the Australian owners.
The fit out of the Graham St location took six weeks, and the light wood panelling and wide glass windows aim to bring a Californian feel to the inner-city street. The back wall is a mural of the iconic LA palm trees, handpainted by New Zealand-born, LA-based artist TastefullyTash. “It’s great for people who want to take photos, and that’s good for us on social media!”
The juices are produced in a commercial factory in East Auckland, made fresh daily and delivered to the store. “We invested heavily in the plant,” admitted Monaghan. “We have big aspirations – up to 20 stores throughout the country, so we need to invest now to futureproof ourselves.”
The remaining fruit fibre from the juices is often reused in the food items sold (and made) instore. The offerings at the Auckland store are largely similar to the ones in Australia, albeit with a slight tweak. The most notable difference is the toast bar, featuring a range of spreads and toppers. In an odd twist of fate, the Australian branches have taken note of the New Zealand innovations and are beginning to adopt the ideas themselves.
Cali Press does its best trade during lunch hours, taking advantage not only of the NZME building two doors down but a range of corporate customers and the Les Mills gym just around the corner.
Cali Press also has a wholesale brand, Press*d, sold at the GoodFor health food store in Ponsonby, along with a range of nut milks. It also offers a juice cleanse programme, delivered fresh in a Cali Press cooler box complete with instructions. “You have to be all in,” explained Monaghan. “We see the health market as a real growth market.”