“Let your food be your medicine and your medicine your food.”
For nearly two decades, the family owned and run Back to Basics health food store has been Payson’s healthy alternative to the big box grocery stores. Now Michael Cole, the founder’s grandson, has added a new service.
“When I first started working here I listened to customer’s stories. Most were about health so I asked myself, ‘Why don’t I open something to help?’” he said.
A juice bar was Cole’s answer.
Cole’s interest in health began at any early age. His father raised him vegetarian and he learned to love the taste of fresh fruit while helping his uncle make ice cream in Mexico. He even grew to love the taste of wheatgrass shots.
Cole visited his mother and older brother in Payson during his summer holidays and when he grew to an adult, decided to move to Payson to learn more about his mother’s side of the family.
He finds the experiences of his youth set him up perfectly to run the Smooth-N-It Juice-N-It Bar and Café.
While the wheatgrass grows just inside the health food store, the juice bar sits in the back at 908 N. Beeline Highway.
Customers sit on stools as they watch Cole blend a smoothie, press fresh juice from organic produce, make an espresso or whip up a cup of chai.
“People love my chai,” he said.
Numerous bottles of supplements, herbs and vitamins line a shelf at the back of the booth.
“If it wasn’t for the customers, I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I do,” he said.
Everyday, someone comes in with a new twist on a healthy drink.
Cole encourages customers to search the store if he does not have it on the menu.
Often their suggested additive joins his larder.
Most customers work out in local gyms and request a drink to increase their stamina, he said.
“I need to see their workout method and proteins they’re taking. I’ve helped people to double their workout time,” he said.
He also helped one woman reach her goal of competing in a bike marathon with a little wheatgrass and a good dose of encouragement.
When the woman first came in, she could barely ride up Airport Road.
“I took time to listen to her story. Some days she was frustrated, but I told her to keep trying, she was working on her dream,” he said.
After a month of working out and adding Cole’s juices to her diet, she rode up Airport road.
Although Cole makes health suggestions, he admits he is not a doctor.
“I can always give suggestions, but what they do with them is their choice,” he said.
Yet, health care professionals often frequent the juice bar.
“Nurses from the hospital come here on their lunch break. They like carrot and beet juice,” he said.
The Smooth-N-It Juice-N-It Bar and Café is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In his book, Spontaneous Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard trained physician, botanist and founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, related tales of incurably ill people who used nutrition to heal.
Stories of patients with incurable diseases drinking aloe Vera juice or an herb to remove skin tumors fill the book.
For more information, call (928) 474-8935.