A lifetime in the restaurant business and a drive along Woodward Avenue in 2005 led Mijo Alanis and his wife, Pam Vivio, to start Beyond Juicery + Eatery.
“I was driving up this road right here,” Alanis says, gesturing through his Royal Oak conference room window toward Woodward, “and I noticed there was no place to buy a banana.”
Not long after that epiphany, the husband-and-wife team opened their first store at 270 W. Maple Rd., in Birmingham.
Since 2005, the brand’s growth has been steady. When the store first opened, Alanis had a goal of selling 100 bottles of juice per day. Today, Beyond Juicery orders 9,960 bottles every three weeks. It also goes through 23 truck trailers full of fresh strawberries each year.
About those bananas Alanis couldn’t find? He now goes through 25,000 cases of bananas, or 1 million pounds of bananas, a year.
The Beyond Juicery story, however, began long before the fated Woodward Avenue revelation.
Alanis started in the restaurant business when he was 15 years old, washing dishes at Bob’s Big Boy in Prescott, Ariz. He kept climbing the Bob’s Big Boy ladder, shunning a potential career as a professional baseball third baseman and pitcher.
“I decided I wanted the prep cook’s job,” Alanis recalls. “He was making onion rings, so I taught myself how to make onion rings and became a prep cook. Then I noticed the cook had the power in the restaurant, so I became a cook. Then I became a server, host — I did it all — and when I graduated from high school, I was asked if I wanted to be a manager.”
Fast-forward several years and Alanis was working in a bar in Scottsdale, Ariz. A lady walked in toward the end of his shift. After an internal debate about whether or not to wait on this last-minute patron, he decided to help her. Good thing. He ended up marrying Pam Vivio, who was from Michigan and attending graduate school in Arizona.
“You have to treat the first customer and the last customer the same,” Alanis says. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
The couple ultimately moved to Michigan and Alanis went to work for his wife’s family restaurant, Vivios in Detroit’s Eastern Market.
“My father-in-law (John Vivio) taught me what it was like to stick the key in the door in the morning and lock it up at night,” Alanis says. “He taught me about the cost of electricity, the carpet, about payroll tax, insurance, napkins, linens, straws — the nuts and bolts of the business. More than anything, he taught me how to live a family life in the restaurant business.”
Shortly after the turn of the century, Alanis started noticing that his Vivios customers were throwing away their hamburger buns and French fries.
“People were starting to eat healthier, asking to replace French fries with side dishes like sliced tomatoes, salads, and cottage cheese,” says Alanis, who also remembered the burst of energy he felt after drinking fruit juice while hiking back in Arizona. Then came that drive along Woodward.
Early in the first store’s history, it sold only juices and smoothies that were mixed in the store. One customer came in and ordered six to take on a weekend up north. That gave Alanis the idea to start bottling his concoctions.
Manufacturing began daily at 4 a.m. in the kitchen of Vivio’s restaurant. Eventually, Alanis had to farm out the juice-bottling to a company in Chicago that specializes in high-pressure processing. The so-called HPP machines look like a mini submarine and take the product — made with no preservatives — and applies 87,000 pounds of pressure. The pressure breaks the cell membranes of any type of bacteria or mold and kills it.
Alanis prefers HPP to pasteurization, which involves applying heat. “When you heat it, you kill everything,” he says. “You’re killing the micronutrients, all the good stuff that’s in there. The HPP process is relatively new. It’s an expensive process, which is why it’s a premium product. It’s all organic. You can’t get any better than that. We can’t make it any cleaner.”
Beyond Juicery started to grow after Alanis went to an International Franchising Association meeting. “When I went to my first IFA meeting, I felt like I was with a bunch of like-minded people. I hadn’t had that feeling, ever.”
In 2014 and 2015, Beyond Juicery + Eatery expanded to three additional locations (the original in Birmingham is still in business, along with stores in Southfield, the Somerset Collection, and Eastern Market), and added a commissary on Cole Street in Birmingham to prepare the foods.
Alanis and Vivio used the four local outlets to figure out how to make the system work before recruiting franchisees. The pair signed their first franchisee in 2018. The brand closed out 2021 with 38 locations — 30 in Michigan and eight in Ohio.
Alanis says 50 more units should come online before the end of 2022, including an outpost in Florida. “The growth is organic,” Alanis says. “We haven’t really marketed yet. We hope to get there at some point.”
A franchise fee of $30,000 gets a franchisee set up. Once a location is up and running, Alanis receives a 6 percent royalty and a 2 percent brand fund contribution.
Beyond Juicery + Eatery offers more than just juices and smoothies. There are a variety of wraps, sandwiches, veggie bowls, soups, and acai sorbet bowls, along with eight choices of bottled juices, six varieties of raw juice by the cup, three kinds of wellness shots, and juice cleanses.
Smoothie options include Total Energy (strawberry and banana), Total Energy Plus (strawberry, banana, spinach, kale), Mango Tango (mango, pineapple, banana, cream of coconut, and honey), Razzle Dazzle (raspberry, strawberries, banana, coconut water, lime), and more.
Although healthy eating was the impetus of starting Beyond Juicery + Eatery, Alanis says a customer survey showed that taste is what keeps bringing people back.
“The true differentiator is in the other products that we have,” he explains. “Our salad dressings are clean. They’re made with coconut aminos, not soy. Our chicken is clean. Our salsa is clean. I think I was about four years ahead of my time. People on the East Coast were trying to eat healthier at the time (the store opened in 2005). It finally came here.”
The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for many businesses, especially restaurants, to survive, much less thrive. Not so for Beyond Juicery + Eatery.
“We were able to move very quickly in technology,” Alanis says. “We became slender. We became closer with our vendors, with our franchisees, and with our customers. We stayed open and actually thrived. We had a lot of good things come out of it.”
Alanis uses a football analogy to describe the state of his business and where he says he is, en route to his goal of 1,000 stores in 10 years with average revenue per store of $2 million.
“The pass has already been thrown,” he says. “We just have to get underneath it and catch it. The difference is making that catch and getting it across the goal line. A lot of people get it to the one-yard line and can’t get into the end zone.”
Alanis says he and his wife have every intention of scoring that touchdown.