A new refreshment option has emerged from the ashes of the now-closed Jamba Juice in Ratner Athletic Center.
Phoenix Mart, a new health food convenience store, opened to visitors during first week, three months after Jamba Juice sold its last blended beverage on June 14.
Dining Services Director Richard Mason said the decision to close the smoothie shop came during the summer, after continued poor sales and what he saw as a failure to meet the needs of the University of Chicago community.
“There were less than 100 people a day [visiting it]. Given the hours of service—10:30 [a.m.] to 9:00 [p.m.]—that’s less than ten people an hour. That’s really very few people,” he said.
The optimal number would have been two, three, or even five times that many customers, Mason said. After a number of meetings, focus groups, and observational studies, Dining Services concluded that Jamba Juice was not satisfying consumer needs.
“The feedback that we got was that the Jamba Juice was fairly high at a caloric standpoint and a price standpoint,” Mason said.
The convenience store instead offers fresh fruit, raw juice, trail mix, Gatorade, and other pre- or post-workout snacks.
Phoenix Mart worker Maribel Guivo acknowledged that business has been slow, although it has only been open for two weeks.
Mason believes the food component of the new store makes it a better fit for the University than Jamba Juice. While Jamba Juice stores do sell food as well, he explained that because of franchise limitations, the location in Ratner had to prove its viability to the corporation before it could sell items besides smoothies.
“[With Jamba,] we couldn’t actually sell bananas,” he said. “Maybe you don’t want the whole banana smoothie. Jamba was too restrictive. We knew that going in.”