AP NEWS

A natural fit

March 20, 2019

When Verde Food Co. founder Kelly Egolf decided to focus the popular cold-pressed juice business on wholesale distribution, she needed to find someone to take over the cafe space fronting Verde’s flagship location on West San Mateo Road so she could concentrate her efforts on the kitchen in back.

“The issue was finding just the right person,” Egolf said. “Someone with a commitment to organics and local food, and who was making healthy and nutritious food.”

Meanwhile, Kevin and Mariana Ivens had moved to Santa Fe from New Orleans with the dream of opening a juicery, smoothie bar and coffee house where people could consume all organic food and drink fueled by the power of superfoods.

And that’s how Verde met Terra Verde Organic.

That the two businesses share a key part of their name is a happy accident — the Ivenses developed the Terra Verde name before they found their fit in Egolf’s space. But it’s a reflection of how well the two businesses’ philosophies mesh.

“It was like two puzzle pieces came together,” Kevin Ivens said.

“They are lockstep with us,” Egoff echoed. “It’s been great, and it feels very natural.”

Now, Verde oversees its commissary kitchen — where other small businesses enjoy a collaborative environment — as it eyes putting its juices in more Colorado locations and in southern destinations like El Paso and Las Cruces. Terra Verde, meanwhile, had its soft opening in early March (a grand opening is set for April 11) after months of making the dining space its own.

The space is strikingly modern but warm and welcoming, with sleek white chairs and fiberglass tables and custom-made bancos (each with its own phone or laptop charger). Pendant lights hang beneath exposed ductwork, and the business’s clean, contemporary logo is displayed in white on the black wall behind the counter at the back, where sweet treats such as banana walnut bread, tahini honey cookies and “guilt-free Samoas” are displayed.

A grab-and-go case features cold wraps, sandwiches and salads, drinks, bone broth from Madre Foods and — of course — a full lineup of Verde cold-pressed juices and milks. Terra Verde is re-creating some of Verde’s most popular dishes, including the kale quinoa salad.

On a recent visit, several minimalist flower vases held artfully arranged pink roses and greenery — plucked from a birthday bouquet Kevin Ivens had given wife Mariana days before.

“This space is an embodiment of who we are,” Mariana said.

Kevin and Mariana, both 39, met in Miami and moved to New Orleans in 2008, where they ran a successful industrial staffing business. They moved to Santa Fe with their daughter in June, after visiting and becoming enamored with the city, and began looking for the perfect place for their culinary concept.

“We came here with the intention of fulfilling the dream, not knowing how or when or where it was going to happen within Santa Fe,” Kevin Ivens said.

The inspiration for Terra Verde has its roots in the couple watching Kevin’s mother undergo severe illness and repeated, brutal bouts of radiation that caused her intense pain when swallowing and stripped her sense of taste.

“It was very emotional to see all that she went through,” Mariana Ivens said.

To help his mother get the nutrients she needed, they bought a cold-press juicer and started juicing, then experimenting with nut milks and fermented drinks. That paved the way for learning about superfoods, nutrient-rich foods and substances that are considered to have healthful or healing properties.

“The whole thing developed into us being health nuts,” Kevin said with a grin.

At Terra Verde, that healthful passion is evident in the array of add-ons (most of them $1) that can enhance virtually anything on the expansive menu. They run the gamut from bee pollen, chia seed, maca powder and spirulina, to turmeric, elderberry, and MCT and CBD oils.

Consider adding a little something to a smoothie ($9.50-$10.50 for 16 ounces or $13.25 to $14 for 24 ounces) packed with organic ingredients that tick both the “healthy” and “delicious” boxes. The relatively tame Berry Bliss blends blueberries and strawberries with lavender, coconut, yogurt, honey and coconut water, while the rich Hulk adds a punch of kale, avocado, spirulina and chia seeds to coconut yogurt, coconut butter, dates and almond milk. There are also smoothies made with Verde juice.

Terra Verde offers its own juice — in the fresh-pressed form ($8.50 for 12 ounces and $10.75 for 16 ounces), including a “build-your-own” option. Superfood bowls ($8.75) come in sweet selections like the Chocolate Sunrise and Azulik Sky.

If you prefer your nutrition served neat, there are several 2-ounce elixers, including the traditional wheatgrass shot and the Witches Brew ($4.95), which melds a wild-grown blue-green algae called E3Live with local bee pollen.

Terra Verde also offers several hot selections: The empanadas ($8.50), in caprese and chicken and green chile varieties, are a nod to Mariana’s upbringing in her native Argentina. Paninis ($10.50) and an avocado toast with roasted red pepper, feta, lemon zest, chia seeds and Himalayan salt ($7.95) round out the menu along with a daily soup.

Terra Verde is a coffee shop, too, with a full array of drip and espresso drinks featuring Santa Fe’s own Agapao Organic Coffee, as well as house-blended teas.

The Ivenses get excited when they share ideas about Terra Verde’s future. One goal is Terra Kids, a line of cleverly packaged cold-press juices for little ones that can be tucked into lunch boxes and please any veggie skeptic (their daughter, 9, serves as chief taste tester). The eatery already offers several smaller-sized smoothies and juices especially for kids — and those sleek modern chairs? The Ivenses chose them precisely because they provide kid-approved swivel.

They created Terra Verde, they said, to be part of the Santa Fe community that has already embraced them.

“Things have been falling into place better than we could have imagined,” Kevin Ivens said. “The more we live here, the more we fall in love.”

IF YOU GO

What: Terra Verde

Where: 851 W. San Mateo Road

When: 7:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday

More information: Call 505-780-5029 or visit terraverdejuice.com or facebook.com/TerraVerdeOrganic