Raw deal: Old Port organic cafe shutters

Is eating healthy a rich man’s game?

If raw is the rage, organic is the only, and we all hale the kale then why in the name of holy jicama didn’t Roost House of Juice make it?

The raw/organic cafe on Free Street closes Friday after a year and a half of heaping on the health in the Old Port.

roost

Flanagan and Richelson with healthy cocktails last summer.

Preparing to pack up their juicers for good, proprietors Kathleen Flanagan and Jeanette Richelson put a positive spin on the situation. “An ending is just an opportunity for a new beginning,” said Flanagan. “We are still processing the whole thing.”

Low foot traffic, high overhead and a health-conscious consumer getting handy with a blender ate away at their business plan.

“Eating local and organic and making juices at home is a huge fad,” said Flanagan, who tried to buck that trend with a 48-seat, Zen-like alternative to Portland’s plugged-in cafe scene.

Before opening, the pair spent a year developing their vegan and vegetarian menu. Drinks like North Woods — spinach, cabbage, parsley and carrots “minus the black flies” — served with a collard wrap and house-made crackers were chef driven to the core. “If this was Cambridge or New York we would not be closing,” said Richelson.

Though $10.25 seems stiff for a juice (no matter how lovingly prepared and superfood friendly), many folks are dropping serious green for green across the country.

According to Barron’s, there is a $258 billion U.S. market for nonalcoholic drinks and the green juice sector accounts for $3.4 billion. Manhattan is awash with raw juice pressers (see Liquiteria) and Boston’s Life Alive is blending up robust sales down south.

Roost may have roosted too soon.

“We are two years away from seeing a juice explosion in Portland,” Flanagan predicts. “We always wanted this to be a malleable business. Maybe it was us that changed.”

Starting March 31, Roost House of Juice, 11 Free St., transforms into a popup yoga studio with downward dog discounts and juicy deals.

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.