“On the West Coast, there’s a juice bar on every corner,” explains Whitney Fitzgerald, founder of TrueJuice, the Shore’s go-to destination for a brightly colored, well-balanced diet. “I couldn’t bring the West Coast to the Midwest, but I could share those healthy ingredients.”
Though physically fit, she felt like she wasn’t healing herself from within, relying on protein bars on busy days back home in Glencoe. “I wanted to create a grab-and-go option that was healthier and more satisfying than what was out there,” she explains.
Fitzgerald’s background in the wholesale food industry, selling produce and other products to hotels, restaurants, and country clubs, provided a bridge from idea to reality through direct access to the produce she would need and even to the farmers. “Business-wise, it completely made sense—there was no middleman, just me.”
So, in 2013, Fitzgerald opened Winnetka’s TrueJuice, offering fresh juices, smoothies, and cleanses. “I was so nervous,” she reveals. “I had never done anything like this before, and wasn’t sure how the concept would be received, but it’s amazing the awareness people have now and the willingness to try new things.”
TrueJuice quickly developed a following, with die-hard fans requesting expansion into their own neighborhoods. Highland Park residents in particular lobbied for a location closer to home—it was one of those loyal customers who introduced Fitzgerald to the property that would become TrueJuice Highland Park in 2016.
From there, the brand has expanded into the food market with soups, salads, and other to-go items, with the help of Chef Apolinar Santillanas, a former client of Fitzgerald’s during her time in the wholesale market. “He can take any idea I give him and turn it into a healthier option,” she shares. “He amazes me every time.”
TrueJuice cleanses are a healthy alternative to traditional cleansing programs that focus on starvation and elimination in place of nutrition and rejuvenation: “When you’re cleansing, your body needs more nutrients, not less. You need vitamins, minerals, and proteins to really detoxify the liver,” Fitzgerald says.
With this in mind, she created TrueJuice’s three programs, all formulated to increase energy, improve sleep, boost immunity and digestion, elevate mood, and reduce body fat. The ACTIVE cleanse is designed to support an individual through workouts and can be done year-round—it’s a lifestyle, not a quick fix—and includes a vegan option for dinner. LEAN-OUT is a gentle juice-only reset for the body, a great option for those who have cleansed before. And the JUICE TILL DINNER plan is great for beginners: getting through the day is made easier knowing you can sit down and eat at night.
“Even if you have just one juice a day, that’s one step you can do to make yourself feel good,” Fitzgerald explains. Her favorites include the Everyday Greens, leafy greens with apple and lemon, and the Alkalizer Detox, for its E3 live, a blue-green algae rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino and essential fatty acids.
The smoothie menu proves equally nutritious and full of delicious options. Fitzgerald loves the West Coast Wake Up, with matcha, the Coco Loco, for chocolate cravings, The Nutritionist, also a top pick among customers (“It has a great balance—it feels like a meal.”), the Ba-“Nanny,” and the Funky Monkey. For reducing inflammation, she recommends anything with ginger, turmeric, and cayenne, and for those steering clear of sugar, even from natural sources, she recommends swapping banana for an avocado instead.
Among the biggest trends in juicing right now is celery. “A lot of people are reading the Medical Medium, which has made celery juice so popular. Drinking 16 ounces a day is said to heal the liver and help with digestion, whether it’s bloat or IBS—the gut is where disease starts,” she says. “We sell out every day.”
TrueJuice even caters to the younger set, offering an entire menu of “Kiddie Cocktails.” A popular choice is the Incredible Hulk: though its main ingredient is spinach, children never taste it, attributing the green color to the drink’s namesake.
“Healthy eating seems to start younger and younger. Within the last year and a half, I’ve been seeing parents involving their children in juicing,” Fitzgerald shares. “The younger you start the palate, the earlier it becomes conditioned to love fruits and vegetables.”
And for Fitzgerald herself, TrueJuice is just as multigenerational—this summer will be the second her daughters, Brooke and Riley, will join her behind the scenes. “It’s a great opportunity for all three of us—we learn from each other. They get to see the business from all angles,” she explains. “They’ve been so helpful—and I end up hiring all of their friends.”
Though she’s on-call seven days a week, Fitzgerald loves to be outside in her spare time. An avid runner, she starts every day hitting the path along the beach, always sure along the way to visit the bench that sits at the lookout at Glencoe Beach dedicated to her father in memory of his passing.
A self-described “local girl”—Fitzgerald grew up in the area, attending New Trier—she makes time to travel. For the past 20 years, her family has considered Cabo a home away from home, choosing the destination for her mother’s eightieth birthday celebration. “It’s where I decompress. It’s heavenly,” she explains. Another favorite spot is Colorado: “I love Aspen—the mountains are so soothing. I always feel like it’s where I’m meant to be.”
Despite her many adventures, she remains heavily involved in the North Shore community, now counting Chicago Botanic Garden among her partnerships. “I’ve been approached to partner with other people before, but it was never the right fit. When the Garden reached out last year, it just clicked.” The result was a pop-up location in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, open every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day of 2018, offering signature TrueJuice bottled juices and made-to-order smoothies, supporting the Windy City Harvest Program through use of their produce and healthy snacks. “We are so aligned in our beliefs, it has been such a great experience. I am so honored to be opening up shop with them again this Memorial Day.”
This spring will also mark her first foray into the city, joining forces with Kitchen United, the recent recipients of a $10 million investment led by Google Ventures. The new Pasadena, California-based delivery-only kitchen concept designed to reach new markets by meeting consumer demand for at-home restaurant dining has been expanding across the country, with Chicago as its latest outpost. Delivering to homes and businesses in the city, Fitzgerald says, “will help me get my name out there; get my feet wet. It’s a no-brainer.”
“I just feel so blessed with such support from the community,” she adds. “My true passion is health and wellness, and it makes my day to give people a healthy alternative. It’s so gratifying to help people—it doesn’t even feel like work.”