Friday, July 10, 2015

Where I Went Today: Maine Squeeze

Work has been crazy. We’re two managers down, 30% up in sales every day from the week before, packed to the brink with high school summer staffers and fighting the heat. It’s amazing I have any time to visit small businesses, let alone write about them.

Luckily for me, as noted in my post on being a boss, I work in a concentrated area of small business. Within a mile are a whole foods market, an Italian-style sandwich shop, an art gallery/gift shop, several bakeries, an Indian restaurant, a couple of pubs, and, my saving grace this hot, hot week, a smoothie stand.

We’ve hit that part of the summer when no one in New England wants to eat anything but salad or drink anything but water. Eating and drinking feel like nothing more than necessary evils when you’re five miles from the beach and obligated to work, especially when the AC does nothing for the humidity. At the cafe we’re pumping out gazpacho and cold brew coffee like it’s a generations-long family trade, and nearly everyone on staff has increased their grocery budgets to include regular visits to the Maine Squeeze, the juice-and-smoothie-stand cousin of the Juicery, which is not even a stone’s throw from our front door.

I’ve been trying to hold onto my pennies (paying off a surgery and a car loan have me more frugal than I’ve ever been), but this week I finally caved and hit the Maine Squeeze… three times… in five days. Not that I mind spending money there—the owner, Alex Vandermark, is a jovial, down-to-earth fellow with a lot of good business sense and a terrific product. And my former roommate and close friend Deborah works a few shifts a week there, so it’s an excuse to stop by and say hello. I’ve put off visiting because the excuse to spend the cash just didn’t seem honest enough—until my day off came and my apartment, a top-floor space with no insulation, no AC, and a huge skylight (a delightful characteristic nine months of the year), became about as inhabitable as an oven, so cooking fell right off the options list. Suddenly a smoothie seemed like a very reasonable investment.

I will not lie. That raspberry-mango-flax smoothie refreshed my whole being. I had errands to run and it was an easy eat on the go. Plus, the smoothies I make at home just don’t come out the same, because I don’t have a high-speed blender. I can’t puree frozen fruit; it always has to be room temperature. Frozen fruit may be frozen, but there’s something about it that makes it more like… dessert. That smoothie? Was delicious.

Which is probably how I’ve wound up back at the order window again and again this week. I expect until this humid spell breaks, I’ll be there at least once a week. My next challenge, by the way, is to try a wheat grass shot. I’m put off by the inside-information that it’s unexpectedly sweet—but the idea that it packs a nutritional punch like eating four pounds of green vegetables is enticing. I am, actually, starting to get just a twinge tired of salads.

With a couple days off coming up I’m looking forward to hitting Sap House Meadery—a favorite of my brothers’ up in Ossipee, New Hampshire. It will be a whole different kind of refreshing to get into a recently tuned-up car and hit the road. I look forward to reporting out on it (I hope) this Monday.

Until then!

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