Bar manager Jim Malcolm quickly and effectively grinds almonds using the bike blender. Nadya Korytnikova, Record-Journal.

Sustainable smoothie, juice bar opens in Durham

Sustainable smoothie, juice bar opens in Durham

Sustainable smoothie, juice bar opens in Durham

reporter photo

DURHAM — Maintaining a healthy lifestyle just became simpler and more delicious with the newly opened Pedals Smoothie and Juice Bar. 

Located at 16 Main St., unit 301, Pedals is run by longtime Durham residents Patrick Nelson and his wife, Katie Hughes-Nelson. The bar features a warm and modern atmosphere with cozy seating, bike-themed decor, and a fruity scent. A vegan, gluten-free menu offers a wide selection of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, bowls, and house-specialty drinks.

Nelson, 46, and Hughes-Nelson, 47, are committed to using only organic and locally sourced ingredients. Some of them grow just a few miles away — maple syrup comes from Durham Sugar House, while seasonal produce comes from Forest City Farms in Middletown. They hope to pair up with more local farmers.  

“I believe there is some connection between how good the food tastes and the ethical environment it has been produced in,” said Hughes-Nelson.

At Pedals, no ingredient comes from a bottle. Employees make the organic almond milk, peanut butter, almond butter, and even hazelnut chocolate spread, which they named ‘New’tella’ — a healthy, palm oil-free Nutella alternative. All nuts and cocoa come from Equal Exchange — a trading organization that brings products directly from small-scale farmers around the world. 

“I don’t think that we should be making a living off the products that are produced at the expense of the environment or the producer,” said Hughes-Nelson. “Everyone should win.”

Pedals strives to keep its carbon footprint to a minimum. No produce goes to waste — food scraps either go to animal feed at the local farm or get picked up by Blue Earth Compost, along with the biodegradable cups, straws, bowls, and utensils. All tableware for dining in is sanitized and reused. 

“We aim to send nothing to the landfill or to be burned,” said Hughes-Nelson. “We do still end up with things like tape from boxes or food service gloves but it’s very minimal, and I believe it will become even increasingly more minimal.”

To further make the bar environmentally sensitive, Hughes-Nelson plans to sell reusable glass juice bottles for a 50 cent deposit. Once the customer brings the bottle back, it will be sanitized and reused while the deposit will be returned.

To preserve electricity, staff members occasionally grind nuts by pedaling a stationary bike installed in the middle of the kitchen. The initial idea included purchasing multiple bicycles and letting customers blend their own smoothies. However, this idea fell through as manual blenders failed to deliver the right consistency. 

“The bike blender has proven to be a little trickier in maintaining quality smoothies than we had hoped. But we hope with more practice we will able to use it more and more,” said Hughes-Nelson.

The couple brought the bicycle from another eatery they run, Perk on Main, which is known for its crepes and artisanal coffee. It opened in Durham in 2002 and moved to Middletown in 2016. In 2013, they also launched the Perk on Wheels food truck and now sell beloved crepes on the go. 

“Any restaurant — whether it serves smoothies, crepes, or whole meals — is important to the town,” said Hughes-Nelson. “I love this community, and I think that’s what keeps me here.”

Pedals Smoothie and Juice Bar is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

nKorytnikova@record-journal.com203-317-2444Twitter: @n_korytnikova

"I believe there is some connection between how good the food tastes and the ethical environment it has been produced in."

-Katie Hughes-Nelson
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