Westside favorite Juicy Kitchen is changing hands. Founders Susan Todoroff and husband George have decided to step away from the healthy-food cafe and turn the reins over to Phil Flynn.
The business began as a home delivery service six years ago. “I was working as a personal trainer and fitness instructor,” says Susan. “And my clients were having a hard time finding or making healthy food due to their schedules.” Using the skills polished in Schoolcraft College’s culinary arts program, Todoroff began making healthy meals and delivering them to her clients. Their popularity led to opening the cafe in Maple-Miller Plaza in 2013 which now does a brisk breakfast and lunch business with menu items like eggs benedict served over veggie cakes with sauteed greens and a homemade veggie burger of the week. The Todoroffs also moved into catering and wholesaling–Juicy Kitchen’s salads, soups, quiche, and low-sugar, whole grain cookies are sold at several local fitness centers, as well as retail outlets like Argus Farm Stop, the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room, and Roos Roast Coffee.
So why are they selling?
“My husband is semi-retired now, and we’re looking to slow down a bit,” says Susan. “We also want to do more traveling, and it’s hard to do that when you’re running a restaurant business.” She had been casually looking for a buyer for a couple of years when a friend alerted Flynn that Juicy Kitchen was available. “I liked the concept,” says Flynn, who was working as a property manager but looking for a new business. “Their menu is basically how I eat. I really like that food can be delicious and good for you at the same time.”
Flynn’s background also includes counseling and contracting work, but “a lot of my family own or work in restaurants,” he says, “and I have a lot of experience in the business myself.” He hopes to expand the wholesale side and perhaps add a few new plant-based menu items, green smoothies, and healthy treats. But for now, he’s immersing himself in the existing operation, working alongside the Todoroffs to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. “There’s a lot to this place,” says Susan. “It’s a lot to take on.”
“It’s really three companies in one,” Flynn agrees, “cafe, catering, and wholesale. I find myself taking notes all the time just to make sure I don’t miss any details. I live my life in sticky notes these days,” he laughs.
He’s happy to take it on. The Todoroffs have “planted a seed here that’s unbelievable,” he says. “There aren’t too many opportunities to step into a business that’s this grounded, that has roots this deep. The respect for what they’ve created is already present in the community, and I plan to build on that and stay true to the business.”
Juicy Kitchen, 1506 N. Maple (Maple Miller Plaza), 585-5562. Mon.-Thurs. 7 a.m.-3 p.m., Fri.-Sun 8 a.m.-2 p.m. juicykitchena2.com