Jamba to return to downtown Evanston after eight-year hiatus


Illustration by Lily Ogburn

A new Jamba location is set to open this fall on Sherman Avenue in downtown Evanston.

Saul Pink, Newsletter Editor

Growing up in Evanston, John Holmes frequently stopped by the smoothie chain Jamba, formerly Jamba Juice, on Davis Street to order a banana berry smoothie. When it closed in 2015, he said he felt heartbroken.

Holmes would drive 30 minutes to Highland Park in a minivan with his friends from Evanston Township High School just to go to Jamba. He even started an Instagram account, @bringbacktheevanstonjamba, to advocate for the smoothie shop’s return to downtown. 

“It was kind of a joke but kind of serious,” Holmes said. 

But in the fall, Holmes – now a senior at Boston University — will see his dream come true. A new Jamba location is set to open at 1732 Sherman Ave., just two blocks from the previous location.

Jamba sells smoothies, juices, bowls and iced beverages at over 700 locations nationwide.

Laura Brown, the business development and marketing manager for the non-profit organization Downtown Evanston, said Jamba’s return addresses a common desire to see more “healthy options” downtown.

“I feel like it falls in line with that sort of food trend,” Brown said. “So I think it’ll be a great spot – right near Starbucks – just a quick grab and go.”

Jamba applied for a permit to remodel the location, which was most recently a T-Mobile store, on March 16, according to the city manager’s report. 

Its return comes amid a push to revitalize Evanston’s downtown — an area that historically relied on workers commuting to offices for business and was thus hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is now reviewing two plans to boost funding for the downtown business district: one focusing on attracting a new demographic to downtown and another to fund small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Lifelong Evanston resident Melissa Lardner said she is excited to have a “classic” smoothie shop downtown again.

When she used to go to Jamba, her go-to order was the orange dream machine smoothie. After Jamba closed, Lardner said her daughter drank bubble tea instead, while she got a coffee.

She said the Jamba will fill the void of a shop dedicated only to smoothies in downtown Evanston.

“I just think that’ll just be a nice little addition and just be a nice place for families to go,” Lardner said. “It’s a great little treat, and I feel like it’s a better start to the day than like, a Starbucks coffee.”

Brown said Jamba’s proximity to Northwestern’s campus and the Starbucks on Sherman Avenue could make it especially appealing to NU students.

She hopes to continue adding new businesses to downtown, especially ones that offer activities in addition to businesses like Jamba. An AMC movie theater reopened on Maple Avenue in November and a Sky Zone indoor trampoline park is set to open on the same block.

“We’ve always sort of talked about having more experience-based businesses,” Brown said. “So getting people more things to do.”

Customers like Holmes and Lardner, however, are ready to go back to Jamba as soon as it opens.

Holmes doesn’t credit his Instagram campaign, which racked up 48 followers and occasional comments from Jamba’s official account, for the smoothie shop’s return. But he said he’s looking forward to returning to one of his childhood favorites. 

He plans on ordering three items and tasting each of them: the banana berry, mango-a-go-go and razzmatazz. 

“I’m extremely excited to have Jamba Juice again,” Holmes said. “I have some gift card money to spend.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @saullpink

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