add or change
-Bright InnerBeauty & Healthcare-
Interviewing Takami SAITO, Owner of add or change "With the 'bright inner beauty & health care'"
Q. What’s your shop’s concept?
Our concept is bright inner beauty & healthcare. “Bright” is an expression of my wish for everyone to lead a more brilliant life in terms of heart, health, and beauty. Also, I have a desire to work with food like a doctor does with medicines; to dispense diet prescriptions in a way that can be easily consumed and “add or change” one’s everyday life.
Q. When did you open your shop?
add or change opened on November 18th, 2015. As the shop location in the Kiyosumi-Morishita area is not in central Tokyo, I first started by selling cold-pressed juices as a way to advertise the shop. Eventually I would like to also sell food products like raw sweets, healthy foods, and vegan foods.
Q. Do you have plans to branch out from the food and beverage industry?
The shop itself is recognized as a juice stand, but it takes the style of a “salon café”. The reason why this shop is pretty spacious for a juice stand is because I have plans for an integrated shop-and-events venue – I intend to hold seminars and workshops in this shop. Currently, I hold one-off yoga workshops. As the shop is celebrating its 2nd anniversary in November, I’m in the midst of planning for many events so they may start from that time.
Q. When was your first encounter with cold-pressed juices?
As I have a weak constitution, I have always been careful about what I eat. I was an office worker for a long while, and even though it was very hectic, introducing cold-pressed juices and smoothies into my diet was really easy. I’m someone who avoids troublesome things, and cold-pressed juices were quick and effective; I became healthier in no time. While studying in New York from 2013 to 2014, I noticed that there were many people who drank cold-pressed juices as part of their main diet. Originally, I didn’t have any intentions to start a juice bar, but I started this shop because I saw that there weren’t many of such shops in Japan, and I also thought that I can make use of my food expertise gained over the years.
Q. How did you develop your recipes?
I create an original blend that can only be enjoyed here by combining fresh vegetables and fruits. I often gain inspiration from the drinks that I have had in New York. There are many unique combinations so I would like to try something unique using Japanese ingredients. The flavor of cold-pressed juices is the pure taste of ingredients, so I think there is a wide range of flavors from the palatable to the less-palatable. I mix the ingredients carefully as I want them to be easy-to-drink. I care very much about palatability. I put effort so my customers can incorporate cold-pressed juices into their daily lives without becoming too conscious of what they stand for. It is a pity if people stop drinking cold-pressed juices after having a bitter one, or if they avoid superfoods because of their cost or use. That is why I think it is important that healthy food can be experienced casually.
Q. How do you procure your ingredients?
For vegetables, I visit the farms directly. I went to Yamagata the other day, and I also go to places like Chiba and Fukuoka. I want my shop to be a business that reaches out to the farms that it works with, and be able to express to them its ideals. Besides going out to look for farms, I also receive recommendations from other farms. I try to go to as many places as I can.
Q. What about the superfoods?
For superfoods, there is a wholesaler that I’ve been purchasing from on a personal basis, and they’re not a famous brand, but because I want to recommend to my customers what I am familiar with, my shop also purchases from this wholesaler.
Q. What is your shop’s hospitality like?
With the “bright inner beauty & healthcare” concept, I cherish the interpersonal connections I make with each and every one of my customers, as I want them to feel that staying healthy is not a difficult thing to do. I will chat with those who seem to be open to a conversation. For those who cannot decide on their order, I will ask them about their current physical state, and suggest a juice appropriate for them. I am a certified Ayurveda Advisor, Superfood Meister and Raw Food Meister, and I also have more than a decade of experience as a hobby, so I can provide authoritative recommendations and prescriptions to my customers.
Q. How do you position your shop within the current trend for natural foods and raw food?
Of course it’s great if my shop booms in popularity, but more than that, I want the people coming by to know more about the shop, and gradually increase the number of such people. Rather than becoming a well-known shop, I want my shop to be firm and progress in a sure and steady manner. This is also why I chose to open my shop here, as I wouldn’t be able to do that in a central location.
Q. Who are your regular customers?
Most of my customers are locals from this area. I see people as young as 1 to 2 years old who come with their parents, to elderly customers. Many people, especially the elderly, are not aware of cold-pressed juice, but I have repeat customers who drink them and say it has improved their health. It may be important to narrow my target market, but healthy foods are not just a trend but a crucial issue for all ages, so I want to spread the goodness to a wide range of people starting with the people who come by.
Q. What are the opening hours like?
The shop opens from 11am. When the delivery of fruits and vegetables is delayed the shop might open at about 12pm, but usually it opens at 11am. I adopt a stance of selling the freshest possible ingredients, and not what is out of season. My regular customers know that the ingredients are carefully chosen. I know I have room to improve on this matter, but I want to sell only what’s good.
Q. What drink do you most recommend?
The “Seasonal” drink changes about once every month. Right now my number one recommendation is Nagano Purple, a branded grape variety from Nagano Prefecture. There is a farm that carefully cultivates it without using chemical fertilizers, and the grapes are harvested and delivered on the same day to be juiced with winter melon. It is by far the most popular “Seasonal” drink of the year, and also the drink that I most recommend now.
Q. How many items are there on the regular menu?
There are 7 items: 6 items plus the “Seasonal”. I also recommend the homemade KOMBUCHA. It is a fermented drink that is extremely popular with the health-conscious. KOMBUCHA is fermented from pesticide-free black tea grown in Japan. Among the many imported and pre-made products on the market, this is a safe drink as it is brewed by hand.
Q. Do you also provide meals?
I serve brown rice onigiri (rice ball), brown rice enzyme onigiri, as well as onigiri mixed with superfoods. The food menu is unavailable now, but it will be available again from November.