Bayou Eats | So Sunny Juicery
article by VANELIS RIVERA
photography by KELLY MOORE CLARK
Rachel Mylock took a leap of faith and pursued the creative venture she had been fervently fostering. Three years in, and with a plethora of juice blends ready to go, she opened So Sunny Juicery.
Fruits and vegetables have had a long history of being mashed and ground for their nutritious properties. But juicing as we have come to know began closer to the 1930s with the invention of the first juicing machine. Its rise and widespread availability quickly launched the development of juice bars and juicing trends that to this day still have a hold in health and wellness spaces. One of those spaces has peaked its sunny disposition in Downtown West Monroe thanks to Rachel Mylock who in three years has turned a passion into a communal experience.
Originally from Pensacola, Mylock has lived in Monroe for about eight years. “My roots are here,” she says, referring to her three-year-old daughter. As far as juicing, it began as a hobby. “I’ve always been interested in natural medicine, in herbs and things like that,” she says. As a friend of the earth, she has always appreciated nature, spending much of her time outdoors as a child. Growing up on the bright sandy coast of the Florida Panhandle provided her with an array of versatile, lush greenery that inspired and kept its hold. “I’ve always had a garden,” she says, finding the process from seed to plant miraculous. Her interest in plants began turning from the practical to the healing, as she began incorporating her grows into her diet. “It affects how I feel, it helps my body function, and as a byproduct, it affects how you look and how you feel about yourself,” she says. Her dive into juicing happened in tandem, but also grew from a need to be unconstrained from traditional medicine. “I’ve always been drawn to unconventional methods of treating things,” she says, opting for herbal remedies for common ailments such as headaches and fatigue.
Mylock decided to share her love of juicing because she couldn’t find anybody offering the service in the area. “And I feel like people are excited for new things to be offered,” she reveals. At first, she began with occasional pop-ups at local events like Woofstock and even more intimate spaces like her most recent appearance at one of Monroe’s most fun vintage spots, The Good Daze. “Everybody that came was super jazzed, super excited about it. So that gave me the boost that I needed,” she says. The opportunity would arise out of happenstance, and become a stepping stone that would further connect her to the Northeast Louisiana community by way of customers and professional collaborations.
An ordinary lunch at For His Temple Foods led to a casual talk with owner Dana Milford in which Mylock revealed her search for a brick-and-mortar. Milford promptly offered her vacancy, a cozy, tucked, versatile space ideal for those who want to grab and go or are seeking a laid-back hang. With that vision in mind, Mylock took a leap of faith and pursued the creative venture she had been fervently fostering. Three years in, and with a plethora of juice blends ready to go, she opened So Sunny Juicery on January 13th and already has a few plans for what has become a steadfast, feel-good stop for a day’s goodness inside one, eco-friendly cup.
The space is illuminated by outdoor string lights draped over the dining room’s ceiling all the way to the bar area. There, customers are greeted by a large chalkboard wall with a colorful menu on display, created by artist Christy Dunn. A dark orange sun with eclectic rays is the central piece and is bordered by images of the fruits and vegetables featured in the six-juice menu. A crowd favorite is the So Sunny Sunrise, a rich blend of orange, golden beet, lemon, and ginger, topped with beet juice. “I put red beet on the top so it kind of has a bleeding aesthetic,” Mylock informs. Coming a close second is the Sweet Green Crisp, a powerful blend of apple, celery, hydroponic lettuce (from H2Greaux Farms), lemon, and ginger. “You mostly taste apple and celery,” she says, adding “It’s a good green juice…so if you’re not a super adventurous juice person, it’s a good starter green,” she says, admitting that she’s partial to the green and citrus blends. This is why wanting more greens is no problem at So Sunny. If you don’t go for The Sprout (orange, celery, lettuce, pea sprouts, ginger, and lemon), you can always add some microgreens, sourced locally from Wall Greens Farm & Seed, to your drink of choice.
It’s spring season and with the sun peaking out from overcast skies, so are So Sunny’s wheatgrass shots. Made with a healthy dose of Wall Greens Farm & Seed wheatgrass, lemon, and a touch of apple, these sip-sized shots pack a punch. Not only is this sprout rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, and C, as well as iron, magnesium, and calcium, but it also is comprised of antioxidants (compounds that help prevent cell damage). For many, spring also means allergies and the juice bar has you covered with two immune-boosting shots. The ginger apple shot and turmeric and black pepper shot can help reduce inflammatory issues caused by irritation and swelling of the nasal passage. Additionally, turmeric has been thought to contribute to managing a variety of health concerns including indigestion and arthritis. In other words, these two are the perfect immunity duo! Coming soon, healthy habits as a social experience—ginger shots for tables! Think, saké service meets juice shots.
“The goal is to do things as locally as possible, and as seasonal as possible,” says Mylock. Currently, she is working on her spring seasonal menu, hoping to add ingredients like honeysuckle, clover, and dandelion. Many of her new, wildly imaginative blends include unique ingredients that you will want to lean into, like purple cabbage, a nutrient-rich leafy green linked to some powerful health benefits like promoting heart health, stronger bones, and improving gut function. Regardless of the blends on the blackboard, Mylock is happy to customize drinks based on wellness needs. “It is pretty open for whatever people want,” she says, often enjoying the challenge and the opportunity to get creative on the spot.
Though Mylock is serving some pretty tasty, bold, and complex flavors, her setup is really simple. “I get my produce every two weeks,” she says. Her carefully prepared and stored ingredients go into one of two cold-press juicers. Unlike centrifugal juicers that rely on a blade, the cold-press method helps to retain more nutrients during juice extraction. “People are amazed,” says Mylock, mentioning that even massive chunks of the densest vegetable are easily crushable by her machines. If you have juiced before, you know that the more juice, the more pulp, but Mylock has figured out how to minimize her waste. At the end of the day, the accumulated pulp goes to Milford who uses it in her compost and uses the rest to feed her chickens. Milford also makes use of Mylock’s orange peels, which she dries and turns into a powder that she uses for cooking and baking.
“Whenever you offer a product, there’s always a lot of anxiety,” admits Mylock, who sometimes is unsure of whether her blends will fly or bomb, but thus far everybody has provided incredibly supportive and positive feedback. “I am already getting people that come in a few times a week, that are already regulars. So that’s reassuring.” An ambassador of sorts, Mylock is now part of a few niche groups connecting the Northeast Louisiana community to “the people growing things.”
Ultimately, the focus is on building relationships and connectivity. In fact, in the near future, Mylock hopes to start sourcing fruits and vegetables from local gardeners in order to further promote the communal element of health and wellness. In the meantime, So Sunny Juicery is brightening our tastebuds one nutritious drink after another.