4 Suns Fresh Juice prepares to open, serve plant-based smoothies and juices

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Courtesy of Gabrielle Walker

The storefront of 4 Suns Fresh Juice. The juice store is set to open in November.

Sam Heller, Assistant City Editor

4 Suns Fresh Juice, which is set to have its soft opening at the beginning of November, will not only be a healthy plant-based smoothie and juice bar but a community meeting space in an area currently lacking both, owner and founder Gabrielle Walker said.

The store will be located outside of the newly renovated Robert Crown Community Center in the 2nd Ward, purposefully away from the downtown area. Walker said there is a lack of nutritional options in the 2nd and 5th Wards — communities that are predominantly made up of people of color.

“I noticed there was a lack of healthy food choices and options in Evanston,” Walker said. “And as I did my research and looked at my neighbors and family, I noticed that in Black communities in particular there are even less healthy options.”

Beyond being a healthy option in the community, Walker also wants the store to act as a community meeting space. She plans on selling items such as Black Lives Matter magnets and African mud cloth scarves. Walker said it was important for “my culture to be expressed in my space,” because she wants to see more Black-centric businesses in Evanston.

Gabrielle Walker, the owner of 4 Sun Fresh Juice. (Courtesy Gabrielle Walker)

Walker has cared about the health of her community for a long time, even before she had the idea to start 4 Suns Fresh Juice. Back in 2018, she bought a commercial juicer for her own home because so many of her neighbors were asking for her to make juices for them after she helped inform them about the importance of nutrition and healthy living, she said.

As her juices’ popularity began to rise, Walker decided to start a pop-up inside the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, where she would sell pre-ordered juices once a week and continue informing people about the benefits of juice cleansings and eating plant-based meals.

Her vision of creating a real storefront became a reality after her friend, Courtney Shapiro, decided to invest in the business.

“She’s an amazing woman and her vision is incredible,” Shapiro said.

After Shapiro’s investment, many more came in, which allowed Walker to start conceptualizing the store. She worked with Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) to find the location she was looking for.

Beginning when the business was in its earliest stages, Walker said she also made a point to be intentional with which businesses she gave her money to, and tried to hire minority-run contractors.

“I knew with every check I wrote,” Walker said, “I wanted to help a contractor that looked like me.”

Her contractor, Delroy Mangal Sr., understood her vision and brought in a diverse team to help.

Mangal had met Walker years prior when she was selling juice inside the community center, and they reconnected with Braithwaite’s help.

“Evanston is a very diverse community, and she is very conscious of that,” he said.

While many other restaurants have been facing difficulties during COVID-19, Walker said she feels fortunate that she has not had any major problems. If anything, the pandemic has increased people’s demand for a healthier lifestyle, she said.

Walker said she is thankful for the various people, including Shapiro and Mangal, who helped her turn her dreams into reality.

“I committed to pursuing my dream and the universe conspired in my favor to bring it together,” she said.

Correction: A previous version misstated the name of the business. The article also mischaracterized the nature of the pop-ups. The pop-ups were inside the community center, not outside. The article also misquoted Delroy Mangal Sr. due to a transcription error. The Daily regrets these errors.

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Twitter: @samheller5

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