After Greenwich businessman Jeffrey Pandolfino sold his Cos Cob catering company, Plum Pure Foods, he thought a bit about what he wanted to do next, and he also started dieting.
As he kept thinking about business opportunities, his dieting started him on an exploration of juicing—turning fruits, vegetables, grains and even nuts into blended juices that would help him create drinks with exacting standards of nutrition.
That exploration not only took some pounds off Pandolfino—it also spawned his next business, Green & Tonic, which he started with some friends two years ago. Until now, the company has operated without a storefront, selling organic, cold-pressed juice, tea, protein bars, soups, salads and shakes.
Now Green & Tonic has opened up its first storefront in Darien (with another planned for an opening next month in Greenwich). G&T is in a tiny, 450-square foot space at 1098 Post Road, next to but set back from the road much further. (Darien Sport Shop is across the street.)
Green & Tonic's customer base is already in large part in Darien, with almost a third of the company's customers hailing from Darien or New Canaan. It also has other customers in Fairfield and Westchester counties, and even some in Manhattan.
A sample of Green & Tonic's cold-pressed drinks
- Jungle Juice [no alcohol in it]: romaine lettuce, celery, spinach, cilantro, cucumber, kale, ginger, parsley, lemon, pineapple, apple
- The G8: beet, kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, celery, cucumber, lemon
- Daily Detox: cucumber, pineapple, aloe vera, coconut water
"NUT MYLK-SHAKES" (made without milk or dairy products)
- Almond Date: almonds, dates, vanilla, cinnamon
- Cashew Chai: cashews, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, ginger, raw agave nectar
The business sells to customers avid for food with a great taste, naturally nutritious, low in calories and grown without preservatives or pesticides. They're also willing to pay a pretty penny to get the food and drink delivered: G&T's three-day plan, for instance, costs $180. Some other plans can cost $825 or $850 for 15 days worth of food and juice.
Products for sale behind the new storefont, however, can be sold individually and (without delivery), and they can range in price from $6.50 for soda-can sized containers of juice to just under $10 for a salad. Wraps, protein bars and marinades are also offered by Green & Tonic.
Some customers use the drinks and food all the time, others just for days at a time to get themselves feeling better, Pandolfino said.
Open eyes, open mouths
"The whole purpose of creating this is having foods that benefit the body, that are nutrition dense, nutrient rich, functional foods," he said. "I don't want to come off preachy, but we want to educate—we want to open up people's eyes to another way of eating and how they can feel better doing it."
There are no meat or dairy products in Green & Tonic's offerings, so vegans should find them appealing, but Pandolfino says his company's food and drinks are meant for more than vegans—G&T's offerings should appeal to anyone hoping to improve their diet, he said. (Pandolfino said he, himself isn't a vegetarian.)
Many of his drinks include a healthy amount of protein—and are created in what Pandolfo, agreeing some nutritionists, thinks is the healthiest possible way: He tries to use foods as fresh as possible, then make juice with cold-pressed methods that avoid heat, and with a juicer that inhibits oxygen, so that more nutrients remain in the food.
After getting his basement full of juicers he's tried and rejected, Pandolfino settled on the popular Norwalk Juicer (which is name after its originator—Norman Walker—and has absolutely nothing to do with a certain community of that name on the outskirts of Darien).
For his business, he uses a commercial juicer that works on the same principles as Norman Walker's, avoiding heat and oxygen.
Look and feel
The small store is modern in design and high tech in operation, yet warm. Once a customer gets past the yellow storefront, inside are blond-wood walls. Against one is a flat-screen monitor (not yet in use, but which Pandolfino expects to use to display prices), and some display shelving.
Along the other wall are circle-shaped mirrors, giving the narrow space more of an airy and even bouncy feel. On the narrow back wall is a refrigerated display case with the store's products.
There are no tables or chairs inside—the store is strictly grab and go, Pandolfino said. Now customers can pick up their food rather than having someone deliver it periodically, only to have it sit in the refrigerator. Any customer who wants to do so can pick up food there daily, he said.
The store is not only new, it's also high-tech modern: Pandolfino uses a tablet rather than a cash register. A wireless connection allows a printer to spit out receipts.
Green & Tonic
1098 Post Rd., Darien
Open seven days a week. Hours: Pandolfino isn't certain yet, but tentatively: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends