The Factory: Buenos Aires’ First & Only Thriving Juice Bar
Of all the romantic anecdotes about expats finding their way to Buenos Aires, there isn’t one quite like Ayaz and Liyanleth’s. But then again, if there was, maybe I wouldn’t have been lounging in their juice bar, aptly named The Factory, sampling each fruit-empowered flavor off the menu. Because yes, their story is not-your-average expat tale of gunpoint-induced decisions, cross-border smuggling, and curious culture clashes…all for the love of fruit.
Ayaz from Denmark and Liyanleth from Venezuela met during the Danes’s travels through South America. The perfect love story followed: he courted her, they fell in love, married a few years later, and began saving to open their dream juice café. However, when an unforeseen threat endangered the couple and Liyanleth’s family, their picturesque plans rapidly changed.
It was a day just like any other, when two armed gunmen broke into the home of Liyanleth’s grandmother, just outside of Caracas, Venezuela. The entire family found themselves staring down the barrel of a gun and handing their money, cell phones, and car keys over to the relentless thieves. At that point, Liyanleth and Ayaz had been saving and storing money in Ayaz’s jacket pocket –thinking it the safest bet, given Venezuela’s current state. The burglars poked and prodded their way through the home, stuffing their pockets with any relatively valuable item in their tracks. Ayaz’s eyes grew wide as he watched one of the thieves finger through each piece of clothing hanging in the closet. Upon placing a finger on the money-stuffed jacket however, the burglar fell victim to his accomplice’s cries and abandoned his treasure hunt to view the loot in the room next door. As the band of thieves drove off the property in the car of Liyanleth’s brother, Ayaz looked at his wife with shock and relief: it was time to go.
They packed up, said their goodbyes, and after much contemplation (Mexico? Denmark? Brazil?), the couple set their sites on Buenos Aires. The Factory was destined for BA’s Palermo barrio, as Liyanleth was drawn to the area’s aura: “the neighborhood is filled with hidden treasures. They’re tucked away and you can only see them if you look; it’s not an in-your-face type of beauty.” All that followed was rapid-fire as they pinned down an empty space to set up shop, found an apartment to move into, and designed a business plan.
But not all along the way was peaches and greens: before the grand opening of The Factory, the entrepreneurs’ juicer broke down, and although the machine was insured, there was no way to fix it. Ayaz called a friend for help, who smuggled a new juicer into Argentina for the frenzied duo. Unfortunately, the worshipped apparatus arrived with a broken part. Days of Internet searches rendered an abled mechanic, and Liyanleth immediately rushed the juicer onto his operating table. Within a few hours (but not before making a few juices for himself and his entire family), the mechanic called Liyanleth to declare the juicer to be in prime working condition once more. That machine now sits proudly at the front of The Factory’s counter –cared for and conditioned by Ayaz after each use.
Although squeezed juice varieties can be found in restaurants, there are no juice bars in Buenos Aires –the “juicing” fad hasn’t yet hit Argentina. But the country’s expats know the benefits of sugar- and water-free blends and flock to The Factory. Little by little, Liyanleth revealed, Argentines are warming up to the concept. Before, she explained, porteños would enter asking for orange juice. After many failed attempts to get the unadventurous locals to add some pack to their punch –in the form of passionfruit, spinach, or apple—the couple took OJ off the menu. Now, as word catches on about health and weight loss benefits, they’ve acquired a few “regular” Argentines, who frequent The Factory for a juice and ginger shot every now and then.
A colorful cast of juices complete The Factory’s menu: from the apple-spinach-pineapple ‘Knock Out’ to the passionfruit-apple-ginger ‘Sensuality’, The Factory juices please every and any taste bud, mood, and need all in one nutrition-packed blend. Even better: they’re all sugar and water free –unlike the imposter juices you’ll encounter in Palermo’s SoHo cafes. Each juice is tagged with an exotic, fun name: “we just thought of the names and then they stuck,” Liyanleth described, “and now I can’t imagine the ‘Stronger’ juice being named anything other than ‘Stronger’!”
If you’re as porteño as we like to think we are, and still aren’t convinced a juice could do anything for you, check The Factory’s ratings on Trip Advisor –of the 2,314 restaurants in Buenos Aires, The Factory ranks as #7. Forty international eaters can’t be wrong –go check out The Factory on El Salvador and try your own blend!