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What Now Philly caught up with Lanice Wilson, president of The Juice Joint in Wilmington and co-founder of the incoming Rooted AF — and yes, the “AF” stands for exactly what you think it does — to find out what exactly is in the works:
WNP: Is Rooted AF a spin-off of your establishment The Juice Joint? Tell us a little bit about Rooted AF and how you ended up at The Chancery…
Lanice: I opened The Juice Joint right in the middle of the pandemic, and that situation kind of forced me to lean into what I know, which is the power of juicing and fresh, clean produce. What it also showcased was my ability to pivot when necessary. We’ve won awards [for our smoothies and juices] each year we’ve been open, so I feel really proud of that.
The Chancery [an incoming market and plaza by chef Akhtar Nawab] actually reached out to me regarding The Juice Joint, but I had already been working with [my friends and business partners] Tamara and Nikita who were showcasing their items in my shop — Tamara has an insane vegan brand and Nikita sells great herbal supplements, herbal teas, candles, etc. Another thing that I’m extremely proud about is mentoring and showcasing not just other female-owned businesses, but Black female-owned businesses. With my brick-and-mortar presence, I have a great opportunity to do that. I feel really passionate about that.
So, anyway, when The Chancery approached me, it was the perfect opportunity for us to do something different, collaborate, and really bring this vegan fusion, quick-service type of vibe to Delaware.
WNP: What will the menu consist of? Will it showcase items from The Juice Joint’s menu?
Lanice: This menu will be completely different; it’ll be like our spin on different cultural cuisines, so we’ll have things like an open-faced meatball sandwich and our spin on a po’ boy which we’ll call a Rich Boy — those will have vegan shrimp. Everything will taste amazing because Tamara’s an amazing chef. We’ll also have Philly cheesesteak empanadas and cauliflower curry. And then, of course, I’m bringing my unique spin on cold-pressed juices and smoothies and Nikita will supply all of her amazing herbal products. We’ll also be infusing some of our dishes with Nikita’s sea moss.
WNP: Which menu item are you most excited about?
Lanice: Everything is going to be so good, I can’t choose just one thing. I’m just excited for our spin on things. For example, the open-faced meatball sandwich is going to be called “BDE,” if you can guess what that stands for. We’re just going to be unapologetically ourselves.
WNP: Do you have an idea what Rooted AF’s price point will be?
Lanice: Our price point is comparable to a lot of other local vegan spots. Nothing is over $20. It will definitely be accessible.
WNP: Is the store still in the construction process?
Lanice: Yeah, the entire food court is still under construction. I was over there yesterday looking at the progress of our store. As soon as they give us the word, we’ll be in there.
WNP: Do you have plans to expand The Juice Joint or Rooted AF?
Lanice: We would definitely love to have a standalone shop or a standalone situation. We’re all super busy outside of this collaborative effort working on other things — Tamara is working on a Mediterranean concept, Nikita has her hand in a million things and is also teaching and working with kids in nutrition, and I’m in the process of opening a cafe called The Cafe Joint. I think, for now, we’re going to ease our way into this, get a vibe, build the brand, build awareness, and then we’ll see where it goes from there.
WNP: Anything else you’d like to add?
Lanice: There’s always this stigma that women can’t work together, but I just want to be the example that women can come together, they can collaborate without being catty, and we can really drive things forward without all the bullsh*t.
Rooted AF updates can be found on the company’s Instagram @rootedAF