Juicebox, the 12th Avenue cafe that championed mindful eating before we even had a term for it, served its final green juice and basil hummus toast on September 20. Now, owner Kari Brunson is kicking off a bewitching new chapter.
This Friday, October 16, the space at 1517 12th Avenue will become Glinda, a wine shop destined to become a proper wine bar whenever drinking together in close quarters becomes a normal activity once again. After nearly seven busy years, Juicebox weathered the Covid shutdown this spring, and by summer found itself an unwitting backdrop to a national news story—the plant-filled cafe is right next door to the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, the origin of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, back when it was known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
Many businesses, Juicebox included, closed once again, out of respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, but also because people were unlikely to enter a protest zone in search of a smoothie. By the time the business reopened in July, says Brunson, “It’s like everyone was running the same race, and we started a couple months late.”
She worried about lean winter months ahead and ultimately decided, “We wanted to end on a high note.” So last month, Juicebox packed up its plants, divested itself of its remaining crunchy salad toppings, and set about acquiring its new identity. Brunson still has a lease on the space, and looked to her own pandemic behavior to figure out its new life. Like many of us, she cooks at home, has stepped up her CSA game. "The one thing I can't make is natural wine."
Last year, Juicebox started doing a regular wine night with Left Bank, the charming South Park wine shop. Owner Campbell Scarborough is partnering with Brunson, and her husband Patrick Wright, to open Glinda. No surprise, the focus will be wine farmed organically, biodynamically, or otherwise with minimal intervention. Glinda will spotlight winemakers that are also farmers, says Brunson, and consider "the full picture" of a winemaker's background.
In the annals of pandemic pivots, focusing on wine has been a quiet but reasonably reliable survival tactic. To Brunson's point, it's something we can't make at home, and all these days and nights spent staring at our own walls lend themselves to drinking wine...especially wine that isn't mediocre. Between the recent surge of interest in natural wine, and the nimble adaptations of places like La Dive, Vinnie's, and Petite Soif, it's easier to get great bottles delivered to your doorstep these days.
Glinda will have a monthly wine club (with delivery option) and list its entire inventory online for easy browsing. Brunson says Glinda will stock a significant quantity of bottles, "and eventually, when we open as a bar, you'll be drinking among the bottles." When that happens (hopefully spring), customers can sit with some plates and pay retail price plus corkage for any of the bottles on premise, rather than a typical markup. "We're going to take something hard and build something beautiful and new," says Brunson.
The wine shop's name ties together a few themes among the partners—a familial nickname, a love of The Wizard of Oz, "a long theme of witchiness" at Juicebox. In the classic movie version of Oz, she's the one who points Dorothy on the (long and winding) path back to her normal life. In 2020, I guess, wine is the thing that helps us weather the journey.