One moment you’re going about your day, and the next, you meet a stranger with an interesting story to tell. It’s one of your favorite things about life in the Bay Area, especially in a neighborhood like Yerba Buena Gardens. 

This time it happens at Juice Shop. Interested in detoxing after the holiday season, you stop in to check out their selection of organic juices. It’s a cozy space, warm and inviting with a blonde wood countertop and a potted palm in the corner. Off to the side of the counter is a menu engraved on a piece of driftwood, giving the room an all-natural, earthy vibe.    

As you read through the juices, you’re intrigued by unfamiliar ingredients like chlorella and moringa. Curious, you ask the guy behind the counter if he can tell you more about the ingredients and health benefits. 

To your surprise, he seems genuinely flattered by your question. Enthusiastic to help you navigate the menu, he introduces himself as Charlie Gulick, co-owner of Juice Shop.

“Juicing is all about the mindset,” he says. “So it’s amazing that you’re already open and willing to try. The first step is to just lean into it and don’t get caught up in the challenges.” 

He pulls a glass bottle out of fridge and tells you it’s their Local Green juice, the healthiest option on the menu. Like most green juices, it has a cucumber and celery base, and it’s mixed with parsley, spinach, lettuce, chard, and dandelion greens. 

“Dandelion greens support liver function, which is the reason I began juicing,” Charlie says. “I was having serious digestive issues and after several years of misdiagnoses – and a surgery to remove my gallbladder – I was finally diagnosed with a rare liver condition called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis.”

Doctors placed him on a transplant list, but unsatisfied with the options, Charlie began to look into alternatives. That’s when he adopted a strict raw food diet with an emphasis on detoxifying juices.

“It was a super transformation, almost immediate,” he says. “Two weeks into my new diet, I had a live blood test done and all of my numbers had gone back to normal. I was just a newfound person after that.”

At first, Charlie was only making juices for himself, but as family and friends became interested in his new lifestyle, he slowly built up a business that eventually turned into Juice Shop. 

“I absolutely practice what I preach,” he says. “I drink two to four bottles of Local Green every day. Although, I do make it a bit more potent if I am at home.”

Inspired by Charlie’s story, but not ready to purchase the green juice just yet, you pick out the Jalapeno Punch. It has a base of orange and pineapple for a delicious balance of sweet and spicy. 

You savor the drink on your way home, taking small sips to make it last longer. It’s smoother than most fruit juices, thin in texture yet bold in flavor. It could be your imagination, but you already feel refreshed and hydrated, as if the juice worked it’s magic instantaneously. 

You’re eager to go back and try more things, like the Cold Brew Coffee with almond milk and coconut nectar. Perhaps one day, you’ll even take the leap and try the Local Green juice that Charlie swears by, but until then, you’re excited to work your way through the menu.