Could avocado toast with sea salt become a menu item at Jamba Juice?
That’s one of the ideas being explored at a new Innovation Bar unit opened by Emeryville, Calif.-based Jamba Inc. earlier this month, which hosted a grand-opening celebration Thursday.
Dave Pace, Jamba Juice’s CEO and president, described the unit as a learning lab where the chain will test various menu options and design elements that could be rolled out to the system.
“It’s an opportunity to push the boundaries and try some new things,” he said. “It’s more of an interactive or educational experience.”
The one-of-a-kind format of the Innovation Bar is very different from most Jamba Juice locations at about three times the size, with an interactive juice bar where people can sit and watch their beverages being made. A large seating area is WiFi enabled, and there’s a patio.
Guests can order flights of cold-pressed juices, or bar snacks, like pistachios, or that avocado toast with sea salt, an acai bowl or a house-made cashew-milk blend.
One of the menu items the chain is working on is cold-pressed juices, which have been available as a ready-to-drink product. But Pace said the company is reworking that offering. “We didn’t have the distribution set up right,” he said.
The Innovation Bar’s décor is vibrant and colorful, with fruit-inspired bas relief sculpture on the wall incorporated with digital displays.
“People are going to walk in and say ‘wow,’ I didn’t think this was a Jamba,” said Pace.
But don’t expect to see more units like this one, Pace said. While certain design elements may translate to the rest of the system, it’s not a format that will be offered to franchisees as a package.
The Innovation Bar is one of about 68 units operated by the company, which has been steadily refranchising the 885-unit chain over the past two years.
The Innovation Bar is also designed to support Jamba Juice’s efforts to grow as a youthful and contemporary brand that inspires healthful living, the company said.
Jamba Inc. said earlier this year the company plans to move its headquarters to Frisco, Texas, later in 2016 in an effort to reduce costs, retain talent and provide a more central location for market expansion.