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Sycamore juice bar promotes healthy lifestyle

SYCAMORE – A former Northern Illinois University instructor is teaming up with a Hawaii native and German woman to open an organic juice bar in Sycamore later this month.

Sycamore resident Dan Pojar, who has taught at NIU for the past six years in the political science and Southeast Asian Studies departments, is the owner of Grassroots Juicery & Café, 2180 Oakland Drive, Suite B, Sycamore, which he hopes to open July 22.

He decided to take a break from teaching and start the business after being dissatisfied with the area's lack of healthy food options. The business will sell smoothies, juices, wraps, salads and soups. Pojar will use produce from the DeKalb County Community Gardens, a nonprofit organization of which he is a member, and from local farmers.

"I want this to be a very community-oriented business," Pojar said.

Pojar said he has been interested in eating organic foods for several years. The popularity of organic stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's shows consumers want to eat food that has no artificial ingredients, he said.

"I really do think those who follow an organic diet to the greatest extent possible tend to be a lot healthier," Pojar said. "All the pesticides, GMOs – it can't be good for us. All organic is is growing things without spraying artificial stuff on it."

Customers also can have a treat along with their juice or smoothie. Sycamore resident Monika Merryman will sell organic baked goods from her business, Monika's Organic Bakery, which uses her own German recipes.

Merryman and her husband moved from Germany to the United States 15 years ago. She already sells her products at local farmers markets and sells her own Spelt 'n' Seed Crackers at Hy-Vee. She met Pojar at a farmers market.

At the juice shop, she will sell organic German soft pretzels, streusels, German sourdough rye bread, pies, cookies and muffins. Some products will be gluten-free.

"Everyone should have the opportunity to get something healthy even if they don't have time to make it," Merryman said.

But customers will have more to choose from than just food. Under the same roof, Hawaii native Marvin Pasion will be a hair stylist for The Hair Retreat. Pasion recently moved The Hair Retreat from 127 S. Sacramento St. in Sycamore to the juice bar location. He met Pojar in Hawaii when Pojar was an intelligence officer with the U.S. Air Force.

The Hair Retreat will sell shampoo with no parabens or sulfates. Pasion also uses an ammonia-free product to color hair.

"We are promoting healthy lifestyles here," Pasion said.

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