Jewish Journal


February 15, 2011

The mouth is the window to the soul


If you want to start a business, Magal Nagar says, don’t rely on other people.

Nagar learned that lesson the hard way. When she had the idea two years ago to open a vegan cafe, Nagar didn’t know the first thing about starting a business. Neither did her friend and partner, Kinzie Oppenheim. 

“We had no knowledge, just the courage,” Nagar said.

So they hired professionals to teach them, which turned out to be a big waste of money. They ended up having to do everything themselves.

The whole process took a year — finding a space, designing a menu, starting a Web site — but today, Juicy Ladies is an established Woodland Hills eatery, and growing in popularity every day. They were named KCOP 13’s 2010 “Best of L.A.” winner in the organic food category.

But there is more to Juicy Ladies than veggie burgers, gluten-free wraps and almond-milk smoothies. Nagar and Oppenheim’s mission is as much spiritual as it is nutritional.

Nagar, an Israeli born in New York, and Oppenheim, who is in the process of converting to Judaism, met while Nagar was running a private therapy clinic in Woodland Hills. Using a technique called channeling — “getting information about someone through spiritual guidance,” she explained — Nagar said she worked with people to improve their lives. Nagar calls this her gift.

It was channeling, Nagar said, that gave her the idea for Juicy Ladies. A longtime believer in the spiritual power of food to cleanse the body, Nagar found an ideal partner in Oppenheim, a certified nutritionist. Together, they set out to find a way to “connect body, mind and soul,” Nagar said.

Eating organic, they believe, is a way to detoxify the body and make it more receptive to healing.

“When you clean your body,” Nagar said, “you can hear your body more.”

Nagar and Oppenheim see Juicy Ladies as much more than just a lunch stop for vegan eaters. They run detoxification programs, host spiritual retreats and reach out to schools in an effort to educate the community on nutrition and its ties to emotional health.

Given the name, you might think Juicy Ladies caters mostly to women. At first, that was the case, but Nagar said men are “becoming more courageous.” She recently served a truckload of firemen who stopped by for a bite. Now, Nagar and her 15 employees serve a wide range of people, from newcomers interested in trying something different to regulars who say they won’t eat anywhere else.

Nagar feels that she’s touching people in a whole new way.

“I love touching people’s core,” she said. “And nutrition supports your core.” 

Check out Juicy Ladies at juicyladies.com.

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