Harlem Juice Bar Brings Healthy Choices to the Neighborhood

Abdi is a refugee from Ethiopia who opened a juice bar in Harlem, NYC. He changed his diet for health reasons and opened his juice bar to help others eat healthier, too.

“I want to improve the community lifestyle,” he shares.

Video Transcript

Harlem, New York: Abdi Abajabal arrived in New York as a refugee. He now owns a juice bar in Harlem.

Abdi Abajabal: So people, they come up, they (are) excited — a new juice bar open in the neighborhood. They ask me, “You have kale?” I don’t know kale at that time. I tell them, “What is that?” They ask me, “You don’t know kale, and then you gonna open juice bar?”

I run out from home when I was 14 because of my family situation and the political (situation) in Ethiopia. I spent five years in Kenya — a refugee camp in Nairobi. After a long journey, I arrived in New York City.

Here, I think everything is going to be accessible, simple. You get the best medicine — you think, I am going to get the best, you know, treatment. But the doctor, once you’re in, the first thing is that they ask you is if you have insurance. The second thing is like, When are you going to come back?

A little bit difficult, communicating with the doctor — so that’s why I just have to, like, look at different alternatives. And then I start nutrition, I read, and then I changed my diet, I feel better. So I start wondering: like me, there are other people who have the same condition, but they don’t — where are they gonna eat? And then a lot of people don’t have an option, and then I start: “Oh, if I change my diet at home, maybe they help someone, too — to bring this awareness.”

(Speaking to customer) Good morning!

Customer: Smoothie with soy.

Abdi: I started with the help of a lot of people, including coming to this country. So even for me, it is my purpose to live. I want to improve the community lifestyle, so that’s why I start a nutrition class here.

In his free time, Abdi teaches nutrition classes at local schools.

Since I opened, my business keeps growing. I have another location. And my service, too: I’m always giving extra than what the customer asks, because I want the customer happy — information-wise, kindness. For me, nutrition is important, being healthy is important, so I have to give the best way I can.

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