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By Elena Kadvany

Palo Alto: Juice bar to open on California Avenue

Uploaded: Jul 18, 2018

The owner of a string of Southern California juice bars is opening his first Northern California location this fall on Palo Alto's California Avenue.

SunLife Organics has taken over 344 California Ave., the former home of Copy America. SunLife Organics serves organic juices, smoothies, acai bowls, coffee, tea and other health food.

SunLife Organics will open on California Avenue this fall. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Founder Khalil Rafati opened his first juice bar in Malibu after discovering what he describes as the transformative benefits of healthful eating. A former homeless heroin and cocaine addict, he continued to feel unhealthy even after getting sober. He was smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, eating unhealthy food and drinking a lot of coffee and energy drinks, he writes on the SunLife website.

"I always felt completely drained and devoid of energy," he writes. "Depression was a constant."

Then, a friend introduced Rafati to juicing and superfoods, changing the course of his life.

"I began to feel alive again— my anxiety quickly replaced by excitement and a renewed lust for life. I started getting more and more adventurous in my kitchen, trying to find a way to make all these amazing natural remedies more palatable, even crave-able, so they would be a part of my daily routine that I looked forward to," he writes. (Read more about Rafati in this 2016 New York Times story: The Malibu Juice Magnate.)

He opened the first SunLife in 2011 with business partner Hayley Gorcey. They now operate eight locations in Southern California, with more on the way. The BBC reported in March that the stores generate annual sales of more than $6 million and there are plans to expand into other states and Japan.

"We have had our eyes on NorCal, awaiting a space to open up that just made sense," Rafati said on the Palo Alto expansion.

The SunLife menu includes customizable fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and "superfood shakes" like the "Fountain of Youth" (strawberry, banana, acai, goji berries, resveratrol, coconut butter and apple juice) and the "Alchemist" (kale, cucumber, spinach, mint, fennel, mango, ginger, lemon and aloe vera). There's also the $28 "Billion Dollar Meal" made from a long list of presumably expensive superfood ingredients, from coconut meat and goat colostrum to buffered vitamin C crystals.

SunLife Organics serves acai bowls, blended with different fruit combinations and topped with ingredients such as nuts, fruit, coconut, honey and bee pollen. Photo courtesy SunLife Organics.

The Palo Alto SunLife will have the same menu as other locations, though ingredients will be sourced locally, Rafati said.

He hopes to be open in October.

SunLife will be blocks away from a very similar establishment: Vitality Bowls, which serves acai bowls, smoothies and juices.