Jermale Eddie, co-founder and co-owner of Malamiah Juice Bar, hopes to have his popular enterprise up and running at Studio Park’s 122 Oakes St. SW storefront by December 1.
“We are counting on our Malamiah fans, family, and friends to support us,” he says. “We believe the community does care and support us. We hope to see that even more when we open. We are only here because they believe in us and trust us.”
Those patrons of Malamiah Juice Bar know that this little piece of fresh juice heaven is a lot more than just another food enterprise. While Eddie appreciates a profit, his goals encompass so much more. As a Black business owner, he leads the way for others navigating the institutional racism that has historically detoured people of color from financial success. As a business leader, he works with the entire business community to address that racism. And, as an employer, he provides the youth he hires skills that he hopes will launch them into successful life-long careers. Eddie’s hoping that Malamiah’s move to Studio Park gives him even more juice as he incites success throughout his community.
“It’s a big move and it’s somewhat of a risk. Being at the Downtown Market, we know what to expect. When we move, the hope is that we have an increase in traffic,” he says. “We wanted to have a little bit more control over our business in terms of product offerings and hours. We will be able to open earlier, capture the breakfast crowd, and expand our menu.”
At the new location, Malamiah will serve cold brew and drip coffee, oatmeal, and chia pudding, as well as locally baked bagels, croissants, and avocado toast. For the lunch crowd, salads and sandwiches will accompany its signature juices, kombucha on tap, and club soda beverages flavored with fresh juice. Plans are in the works for expanding the catering menu, too.
“We make healthy taste good, make healthy fun,” Eddie says. “And, by purchasing those items, you get our commitment to West Michigan, our commitment to Grand Rapids. You are sowing a seed into an organization that is good for our community and good for the employment of young people.”
The new location will require an expanded staff, which means more opportunity for area youth. Malamiah Juice Bar is one of the 100 businesses employing high school and college-age youth as part of the City of Grand Rapids/Our Community Children’s Mayor’s 100 campaign and has hired youth from Grand Rapids Public Schools’ University Prep Academy
“Our hope is to get to being open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If there is a desire, we will reach out to people attending movies in the evening,” Eddie says. “My hope is we can operate, at some point, for the night life crowd, providing a sober bar with nonalcoholic beverages.”
He notes that systemic barriers have deterred black businesses from locating in downtown Grand Rapids. Communities of color have had more difficulty obtaining capital and financing. When spaces are available for lease, they may not be listed and instead are rented out to families or friends. Or, when properties are listed, people of color showing interest may not get a call back.
“[These issues] are now getting on the priority list of our city commission and mayor,” Eddie says. “Healthy comes in all colors. We’re a welcoming, inclusive business. We want our business and products to be something that brings people together, all colors, all ages, all genders. That’s what we want to see. That’s what we have seen with our customer base.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Development News Editor
Photos courtesy Malamiah Juice Bar