Do you remember that episode of The Cosby Show when Cliff gets a juicer?
He was all excited about his state of the art, stainless steel, life-altering new contraption, but Clair merely rolls her eyes and wonders how long it will be before the juicer will end up in Cliff’s “appliance graveyard” underneath the kitchen counter.
Luckily for us, Anissa Eddie of Malamiah Juice Bar had a different reaction when her husband Jermale did the same thing.
It all started in 2012 when a friend introduced Jermale to the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. The film chronicles the health and weight loss journey of Joe Cross, a morbidly obese man who starting juicing and vastly improved his health as a result. Inspired and amazed, Jermale did research and began juicing at home.
Soon the passion was a family affair, and it was Anissa who initially came up the idea of opening up a juice bar in Grand Rapids.
“We started talking about juicing with some close friends and realized that pursuing better health was not a hard sell,” said Anissa. After having a friend lose a large amount of weight through a juice diet, it hit them that this passion of theirs could be “life-changing.”
And the name? The Eddies have two sons, Malachi (age 4) and Nehemiah (age 1), which if put together makes “Malamiah,” the most obvious option when naming a juice bar (Neheachi doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely).
“Malachi thinks he owns the place—like, the whole market. He jumps up on the stools and talks to the customers,” said Anissa. “Then at home he plays pretend juice bar, with Legos instead of fruit.”
Considering the Eddies’ lack of business background, the fact that they have more than Legos and toy blenders to work with is still a constant source of gratefulness. Anissa credits her husband’s energy and optimism in pushing Malamiah past the dream phase and into the very real Downtown Market.
“He just kept saying, ‘We can do this, we’ll learn as we go,’” said Anissa.
While the Eddies are still learning themselves, many of their big picture goals are focused on teaching and making a difference in the Grand Rapids community.
“We built our whole mission statement around the idea of holistic community wellness,” said Anissa. “On a basic level that means making fresh, healthy, delicious beverages for people.”
But making your new favorite Island Vacation smoothie is just the beginning for the Eddies. Beyond the market counter, they have begun to hold community education events centered on the benefits of juicing and getting enough fruits and vegetables.
Specifically, the Eddies are targeting communities of color to increase awareness and address health disparities.
“Many people in the African-American community struggle with diabetes, high cholesterol, and access to healthy food,” said Anissa. “We are humbled and excited to bring information to people of color as business owners of color.”
The final tier of Malamiah’s mission is youth employment. The Eddies are interested in giving teens a positive work experience they will prepare them for life beyond high school.
“We hope to model basic work skills—helping them understand what things like customer service, reliability and punctuality look like in the working world, so that they can take it with them into their careers.”
All of these pieces of the Malamiah puzzle make one thing clear: the Eddies are here to stay. While some might think that juicing is just a fad, Anissa is confident that it is a trend with staying power.
“There is an important difference between fads and trends. Trends develop roots in society. They create layers and grow over time, becoming a sustainable part of the culture. This is where the mindset is moving.”
By the end of the episode of The Cosby Show, Rudy has made a huge mess with the juicer and Cliff is labeled as an accomplice in her delinquency. He is sentenced to five years of appliance probation.
Let’s hope Malachi and Nehemiah run a clean shop so that the juices keep flowing.
Local First featured Uccello’s Hospitality Group back in October when we were gearing up for Fork Fest. Now that we’ve all had a chance to digest a bit, we thought it would be a perfect time to highlight the group’s newest additions, Mazzo Cucina D'Italia.