TRUCKEE, Calif. — Ben Wolcott went from mixing drinks behind a busy city bar to cold pressing raw fruit and vegetables into bright, colored juice in a slow-paced mountain town.
Originally from Southern California, Ben is glad to have relocated to Truckee. His business partner and girlfriend Megan Petrilla was born and raised in Incline Village and refers to their Tahoe return as “coming back to reality.”
“Living in New York is such a daily grind,” she said. “We were tired of just staying afloat with jobs.”
The couple met in New York City at the bar where Ben was working.
“It was one of those rare bar stories that actually worked out,” Megan said with a laugh.
Ben and Megan’s decision to move west and open The Mill Juice Shop was easy. Megan studied fashion and started making juices at home, experimenting with different vegetable combinations.
“We wanted to do something that was really healthy, something that we could make an honest living at but also that others would benefit from,” said Ben.
Ben by no means considers himself a health nut. He started drinking juice for the sustainable energy boost it gave him during bartending shifts and said it also helps curb his sweet tooth.
The Good Vibrations — a carrot, apple, ginger and lemon juice — was the one of the first beverages Megan created and is Ben’s recommendation for customers new to fresh juice.
“It was the first juice I really liked,” he said of the vibrant orange concoction. “The first juice that I could drink everyday — it tasted sweet to me.”
The Mill Juice Shop uses a Norwalk juicer, which cold presses the pulp and squeezes out fresh juice. The process creates a juice considered “slow food,” as no heat is used and the fruits and vegetables are not oxidized — a result from centrifugal juicers. “There is an average of about five pounds of produce in each bottle,” Megan said. “That shows how many nutrients are going into your pores right when you drink it.”
THE MILL AND THE MUSIC
Evelyn Thais, an employee at Clear Capital, discovered The Mill when it first opened in mid April. Evelyn said she was excited to have another healthy alternative in the area.
The Truckee local returned to The Mill before leaving for a road trip and bought a four pack of juice for the road — two bottles of Good Vibrations, one bottle Sgt. Pepper and one of Sunday Morning — pineapple, jicama, turmeric, cucumber and lemon.
“I want to make sure I have the good stuff before I go,” Evelyn said.
Ben’s influence as a musician has been pressed into the juices as well. The titles, all after different songs, reflect his love for music. For Ben, pouring creations such as We Got the Beet and California Dreamin’ is more rewarding than serving Manhattans, cosmos and screwdrivers.
“I feel that it’s easier to sell this juice than alcohol,” Ben said. “I’m fully behind the juice.”
This Saturday The Mill will throw a grand opening party at their location on Pioneer Trail. Megan’s father and his band Jacked-Up will play, and Big Truck Hat will be set up as well. Megan hopes to share her juices as well as experiment making some cocktails with the juices.
On The Mill’s first day in business, Megan and Ben found themselves sold out of juice and frantically juicing produce to keep up with customer demand.
Megan called Terri Petrilla, her mother, her support system and an investor in The Mill. Terri showed up with the rest of Megan’s family and everyone pitched in to keep juicing, blending smoothies and brewing coffee.
Ben, Megan and the Petrilla family feel good about sharing juice with the community. As studies continually show the health benefits of drinking cold pressed juice, Megan continues to get creative with her concoctions.
Jicama, jalapeño and spices like turmeric and cayenne give The Mill’s juices interesting flavors and healing properties.
“Knowing that I’m giving someone an amazing juice that’s going to give the body so many amazing enzymes and nutrients … I feel so happy,” Megan said.
The Mill’s Grand Opening party will be Saturday, May 3, 2-4 p.m. at their location near Fully Belly Deli on Pioneer Trail. Juices will be served along with espresso and smoothies.
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There is an average of about five pounds of produce in each bottle. That shows how many nutrients are going into your pores right when you drink it.”
The Mill Juice Shop