Sarasota-based CROP juice expands into University Park

UNIVERSITY PARK -- As Florida heads into its hottest season of the year, a local cold-pressed juice bar expands its reach.

CROP, which stands for cold-pressed raw organic produce, is an all-organic raw juice bar. The company opened its first location on Gulf Gate Drive in Sarasota in January 2014 and will open a third location between Anna's Deli and Pita's Republic in the Tourist Center Drive strip mall at University Town Center.

Owner Karen Odierna said she hopes to open the 1,400-square-foot space owned by Benderson Development Co. in late fall 2015. She hopes to have four to six employees working at the University Park location.

CROP's other neighbors include World of Beer, Casa Di Pizza and Great Cutz hair salon. The juice bar fills the last vacancy in the Benderson-owned strip mall.

Mark Chait, executive director for leasing at Benderson Development, said CROP is a good final tenant for many reasons.

"They're unique to the UTC collection of properties," Chait said. "They're experienced operators and they have a passion for their business."

Chait is a fan of CROP's product.

"I think they have the best cold-pressed juice in greater Sarasota-Manatee," he said. "It's cold pressed every day and when you want to put together juices the staff is extremely knowledgeable."

The business focuses on variety, taste and catering to the health needs of individual customers, Odierna said.

Pressure from Lakewood Ranch

customers made Odierna want to expand into University Park and she started thinking about expanding early in 2015.

"We know people are very centralized in where they live," Odierna said. "We were looking for space up that way and thankfully we found that open spot, because I think it was one of the only spots open."

The new CROP will provide the same variety of juices offered by the original Gulf Gate Drive location. A designated, custom-order smoothie bar will be included. Odierna said they began offering custom-order smoothies a few weeks ago, but a designated spot in the store for smoothies is a first for the business.

The juice menu is full of pre-determined mixes, but customers can customize mixes. Leafy greens are juiced separately, allowing customers to order juices with a specific measurement and Odierna can assure the measurement is valid.

CROP also offers a selection of salads served in mason jars, a health "shot" with turmeric and ginger and "mylk" made with organic, stone ground almond butter and hemp seeds.

The Sarasota location will remain juicing headquarters, Odierna said.

Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter @jayohday.