“The reason that we are all exploding is because of a very simple economic principle: supply and demand,” he says. “The demand for a truly, all-natural, healthy, clean eatery that’s affordable, that’s convenient and doesn’t taste like shit is very high and ever growing. And the supply isn’t able to meet the demand.”
Nieto, who is a veteran of AT&T’s retail business and franchised cell phone repair chains, came to Main Squeeze after a personal conversion. The brand’s founder asked him to try one of the cold-pressed juices. He warned them that he’d likely spit it out as most
“No lie, I’m drinking this juice and I just cannot believe it. I’m a steak-and-potatoes guy. I can’t believe I’m drinking beet juice, green juice that I just love,” he says. “By the time I stop sampling, I felt like a million bucks. I was really feeling a high. I’m the Starbucks guy addicted to caffeine going through the drive thru several times a day. That’s when the lightbulb hit me.”
His expects his nine-unit concept will tout 16–18 stores by the end of the year. While other chains are moving inland from both coasts, Nieto says, Main Squeeze is focused on building critical mass in the Southeast—a strategy that has led the brand to turn down development deals in other states.
“Form other franchises, I learned you’ve really got to grow as a cluster, grow strategically,” he says. “Don’t do one deal here and one there. Unless we’re doing a huge development deal somewhere, it’s not even an option.”
Main Squeeze offers juices with evocative names like Burn, Awaken, and Detox, along with a dozen smoothie options, wellness shots, coffee, teas, and bowls. Sales normally split close to 50-50 between smoothies and juices.
Juice and smoothie concepts are “kind of exploding” nationally, Nieto says. As that happens, his brand will increasingly cross paths with major smoothie chains. But he says Main Squeeze’s smoothies stand apart: Its juices and smoothies use whole fruits and vegetables—not concentrate—and exclude ice, sugars, and syrups.
“Technically we’re both using blenders,” he says of the big smoothie chains. “But the educated customers, our customers, know the difference between corn syrup-soaked strawberries and blueberries added to your smoothie from a pump …We use whole fruits, whole veggies, no ice. You’re literally consuming plants: fruits and vegetables.”
While Main Squeeze focuses on health-motivated customers, Nieto says there’s a certain buzz surrounding the brightly colored juices and smoothies that plays well on social media.