By Eileen Weber
Whether you’re a yoga mom having a Zen moment, a businessman just off the train from New York, or a 60-something retiree looking to change years of bad eating habits, one shop on Water Street in Norwalk has got you covered. The Stand Juice Company, run by Mike Hvizdo and Carissa Dellicicchi, is a funky little spot that boasts a loaded juice bar and all the organic vegan food you could stuff into a wrap.
Dellicicchi and Hvizdo, who opened the shop in 2006, source as much produce and fruit as they can locally. The majority of the ingredients in their smoothies, sandwiches, and other menu items come from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and other parts of the New England area. They get all of their sprouts and wheatgrass from Farming Turtles, Inc. in Rhode Island. Knowing their farmers personally is important to them.
“We have a four year relationship and their products are perfection,” Dellicicchi said of Farming Turtles. “They are more eager to please than anyone I’ve ever met and jump through hoops to solve problems.”
It’s that kind of green mindset and attention to detail that has customers coming back for more. “One unifying factor in our clientele,” said Dellicicchi, “is that everyone wants to be healthier than they are.”
While they started out with 30-something moms who just wanted to stay trim, they said their demographic has changed. As far as their concerned, that’s proof positive that this style of healthy eating works. They still get slammed just before bikini season, however.
Much of that has to do with the 5-day juice cleanses they offer. Although, they make it a point to say that juice cleanses are not for everyone. They try to determine why a customer wants to cleanse before they administer it.
“We don’t promote it as a weight-loss program,” said Dellicicchi. “Some people are looking for a lifestyle change, some for illnesses, and some for a sugar addiction or a food allergy. We discourage making an immediate decision on cleansing.”
It was Hvizdo’s initial desire to change his diet that led them on this path of vegan and organic foods and juice cleanses. Mike suffers from a rare blood disease that he keeps in check with diet and exercise. “Dealing with things holistically guarantees you’re going to be better off that you are now,” he said.
But that wasn’t the only reason. Before they even opened their shop, Hvizdo’s mother had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy. As a way to keep her strong and healthy, they started organic juicing. Soon, others at his mother’s cancer support group wanted juice. Before they knew it, they were making enough for 50 people out of their tiny Southport home. One thing led to another and the rest is history.
Now, the recently engaged couple is planning for another store here in Fairfield. This summer, they plan to open their new location at the Sportsplex on Mill Plain Road. It will soon be a 1,700 square foot space serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, with shortened hours on Sundays. This new location will have a similar menu, adding child-friendly finger foods as well.
While Catch a Healthy Habit has been a lynchpin in the organic juice and raw food market here in Fairfield, Hvizdo and Dellicicchi think they offer something a little different. They source almost everything locally with only the avocados and almonds imported from California. But, what makes them stand out from their competition is their flexible attitude about healthy eating. They insist that while eating raw food is good for you, making your diet solely based on it is impractical.
Dellicicchi stressed that, while having raw food in your diet is essential to healthy eating and can be appropriate as a means for healing your body from an illness, it shouldn’t be a one-size-fits all diet regimen.
“I don’t believe in 100% raw food for the masses,” she said. “I’m not one to say one diet’s better than the other. I was 30 pounds heavier when I lived in Miami and followed a raw food diet. I guess I was eating the wrong raw foods. It’s just too much of a constraint.”
The Stand Juice Company has a full menu of juices, smoothies, salads, and sandwiches. Their baked goods, soups and juice specialties change weekly. For more information, visit their web site at www.thestandjuice.com or contact them at 203-956-5670.