After catching COVID, she left her jobs to follow her dream — opening 360 Juteuse Fruit Bar in Manchester

·3 min read

One of Manchester’s new restaurants, 360 Juteuse Fruit Bar, sells juices, smoothies and boba tea made with fresh fruits and veggies, and lets customers make up their own concoctions if they want to.

It is a small location, just 310 square feet. But the shop is a dream come true for Connie Williams.

“I love being here. This is me. This is what I want to do and where I want to be,” Williams said.

In early 2020, Williams was working as a hairstylist, and part-time in a group home. She had rented the location at 360 Main St. and planned to transition to a restaurant owner, working at the group home on the side. “Everywhere I go, I’d be in charge of the mixed drinks. I was reading a lot about nutrition and I thought, I could make nutritious drinks,” said Williams, a Hartford native who now lives in Manchester.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Her hairstyling business stopped. Then she contracted COVID-19 from a coworker. She was asymptomatic. “I didn’t even know I had it,” she said.

After the virus danger passed, she didn’t want to return to health care. “Something told me not to go back. I knew it would keep cycling through the home, and it did,” she said.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Williams became a restaurateur full-time when 360 Jeteuse opened around the corner from Manchester Memorial Hospital. Foot traffic has been good, Williams said, and a lively social media presence keeps people informed about what she has to offer.

Her selections are wide-ranging, with fun names that reflect Williams’ love for music. The Al Green juice is (almost) all green, with kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple, orange and ginger. The Rihanna Colada smoothie has pineapple, banana and coconut, “the flavors of the islands,” Williams said, reflecting the singer’s home in Barbados. The Jackson 5 is kiwi, orange, watermelon, blueberries and pineapple. The Temptations is apple, banana, cinnamon and ginger.

Two items on the menu were created by customers and were so good Williams kept them. “A little girl named Olivia would come every Saturday. She is very shy. She stands by her mom and doesn’t want to talk to me. She told her mom she wanted strawberries, blueberries and banana. I made it and had some leftover and I drank it. It was so good,” Williams said. It is called “Olivia’s Opinion.”

The “Eve” is named after another customer, who wanted a drink with pineapple, mango, peach and coconut. “If you come in here and ask for something special and I make it and it’s good, I will put it on the menu and name it after you,” Williams said.

Williams also makes “caramel coffee freezes,” with coffee, protein powder, caramel, fruit and whipped cream. The most popular coffee freeze is made with blueberries, banana and peanut butter.

Even though the juice bar is at 360 Main St., the restaurant was not named for its address. It was named for numbers that Williams’ mother frequently played in the lottery. “She won a lot,” Williams said. She also honors her mother with a juice, “Virginia Spice,” with her mother’s favorite flavors, pumpkin, cinnamon, almond milk and vanilla.

Customers can add or substitute ingredients, such as probiotics, protein or vegan protein, flax seeds, sea moss, turmeric, granola, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or matcha.

Juteuse is the French word for juicy. “I used to go to Paris every other year. I love Paris,” she said.

Recently, a customer took a bus all the way from Middletown because she had heard of the juice shop and wanted to try it. “That brought tears to my eyes. All that way for just one drink,” Williams said. Soon, Middletown residents won’t have to travel that far. Williams is planning a second location in that city. She does not yet have an opening date in mind.

The restaurant is open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 360juteusefruibar.com.

Susan Dunne can be reached at sdunne@courant.com.

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