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Organic Ave New Chief Plans to Extend Vegan Trend Nationwide

Organic Avenue, the tiny purveyor of high-end juices, fresh salads and specialty foods like cashew scallion cream cheese and Thai collard wraps, has hired a new chief executive with the goal of turning its new owner’s dreams of a national chain into reality.

Martin Bates, who turned around Pret a Manger’s faltering business in the United States, will take charge of Organic Avenue in June. His task is to extend the appeal of its products beyond the trendy, celebrity-studded customer base it has built in New York City through a variety of national outlets, including online direct delivery services, exercise gyms and its own fleet of new stores. “We need to mainstream the healthy, organic offering we’ve got,” Bates said in an interview Tuesday.

“I drink green juices and have done for the last year or so, but living the life of a vegan is not for me. I think there are lots of other people like me out there.”

Organic Avenue is famous for its juices and juice cleanses, as well as its orange and white bags that are often caught in paparazzi shots of rail-thin actresses in Manhattan’s stylish SoHo neighborhood. Juice is fast becoming a big business, and everyone from Starbucks to restaurant impresario Danny Meyer is diving in.

The company also has a toehold in another fast-expanding market, that for ready-to-go vegan and vegetarian foods. “They’re capitalizing on two significant trends, pressed organic juices and vegan,” said Maxwell Goldberg, a former Wall Street banker who has turned himself into an overnight organic sensation with his blog about organics,, and a new online directory of organic juice, “There is nothing bigger in organics right now than pressed organic juice, period.”

The market for vegan and vegetarian food choices, too, is growing fast, driven by consumer concerns ranging from health and economics to the environment and animal welfare. More families are having “meatless Mondays,” and dining on tofurkey — a tofu-based turkey product; other fake meats are going mainstream as well, spawning a fast-growing crowd of consumers who identify themselves as “flexitarians.”


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