Guru of Goodness: Raw & Juicy's Jenifer Kuntz
Something about Florida's coastal Highway 30A captivated Jenifer Kuntz so much that when she came for a quick visit, she couldn't bring herself to leave. Twelve years later, after founding Raw & Juicy, the area's first organic food and juice bar, and resurrecting the year-round farmers' market in town, she's a constant fixture—blending up zesty fruit juice combinations with ginger and greens, tossing crisp salads with kale and avocado, and mixing raw dessert bars with coconut and dates.
It may have been the white-sand beaches and turquoise water that drew her in, or it might have been the subtle similarities she saw between this idyllic stretch of the Panhandle and the Alaska town where she spent her childhood. "In both places, people are very focused on being outside, and there's a great sense of community," she says.
But when she first settled into her new home, "I realized there were very few options in the way of wellness," she says. While studying dance in college, Kuntz had worked at a health foods store. She brought that knowledge with her to a Seagrove Beach yoga studio, where she took orders for fresh juices and raw meals before class, rushed home to make them in her own kitchen, and then returned with the goods when class ended. Kuntz realized she just may have stumbled upon a viable business.
She first converted an old Airstream trailer into a kitchen, and set up shop a couple of miles down the road in Seaside, a planned community with a vibrant town center. "We were the first organic business anywhere between Pensacola and St. Augustine," Kuntz says. "We were introducing people to something very new to them, but they loved it because it tasted so good."
Now the Raw & Juicy brand, with a Seaside brick-and-mortar extension to its Airstream roots, is such a favorite among both locals and vacationers that many stop in so regularly they keep open tabs running. "A lot of musicians and actors seek us out—Vince Vaughn comes often, and Reese Witherspoon will eat here three meals a day—but the coolest part is all of the kids and locals who have learned that to feel better, they have to eat better," says Kuntz. "Fresh, light food really connects with the lifestyle at the beach."
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