We first bumped into The Mill at the grand opening of the 10th and Virginia block party. This featured several local business's opening into the new spaces after months of renovation of the new block. Ben and Megan are the owners and founders. They opened the doors in Truckee in 2014, and the second located in Reno as of April of 2016. The vibe was rad. We went to the coffee shop next door to catch up and see what has been going on.
How did you guys meet?
M: How did we meet?
B : We met, what's the holiday weekend at the end of August?
M: Labor day.
B: That's labor day or memorial? Memorial-
M: Labor day.
B: So it was labor day in 2009, I was bartending in lower east side in New York. It was a Sunday night and everyone has the following Monday off so we were slammed. We had met that night while I was working. She was visiting.
M: I was visiting to see if I wanted to move there.
B: She randomly stumbled into the bar. The guy I was working with ended up hooking up with her friend that she was with. So she stayed till basically, I don't know, 6 or 7 in the morning hanging out. And-
M: Asked him to breakfast.
B: She took me to breakfast afterwards.
B: We kind of kept, we met up the next couple days after that. She went back to San Francisco. We stayed in touch over the course of about a year then she moved out to New York after that.
B: Just your regular New York love story man.
M: Just falling in love in a bar, man. It was really the whiskey that was talking.
B: I was feeding her drinks all night.
M: He was buttering me up for sure. (laughs)
So why a juice shop?
M: There's so many, I don't know there so many weird things that have happened.
B: One of the reasons is definitely that when we were living in New York together we came out here to visit her family who were living up in Tahoe at the time. We were kind of blown away there wasn't any juice shops up there. Being that there's a lot-
M: So many athletes
B: A lot of athletes up there, a lot of Olympians live up at the lake. A lot of people who are very health conscious who can afford to spend money on juice and working out and things like that. So were were kind surprised there wasn't anything like that up there. Once we made the decision that we wanted to start our own business that was one of the first ideas we came up with. We knew we couldn't do it in New York. We didn't have 600 thousand dollars to throw down on a fucking business up there you know. We had to move back here, she has family here. Her dad is a contractor here.
M: Definitely made it easier.
B: He helped us build out our first shop in Truckee. There was a lot of stuff that just kind of just fell into place. The juice I mean, she had been juicing since I met her basically.
M: I feel that in New York it is a lifestyle that you just run and you never stop. I got to the point where I was drinking 6 cups of coffee a day and I'm dying. You know? Trying to find other substances. Trying to find something that would kind of fuel us. Then my boss got us hook on juice. She got cancer, long story short. So we started juicing when we were feeling the energy out of it. Then at that point I was like we are going to kind of get hooked on this. This is definitely, I could feel the benefits. It was survival basically.
B: The thing too was also us kind of taking a look at what we buy, where it comes from.
M: New York is crazy.
B: How all that affects your body. I know produce out here on the west coast, I feel that it is a lot better than when you're in New York. It's hard to find good organics. Out here it just runs abundant, which is awesome. That was part of the business was just us being aware of what we're eating, what we're drinking, where it comes from. Can we pronounce all the stuff that's in it. Regular stuff that a lot of what people are doing now a days.
M: It was a lot of self educating, for sure.
B: A lot of online searching.
M: Tons of books. It's crazy because there's a science to it, then there's also nutrition. There's so much behind that it's medicinal in that way.
How was the process of opening that first store?
B: I don't think anything can prepare you for opening a business. I think you just have to do it and just learn off it. Its a lot of mistakes and a lot of just, kind of taking yourself out of the equation. How can we rally around this thing here? What's best for it? How can we make this thing successful? How can we keep it busy? Stuff like that.
B: After working in bars for so long I was like, gosh. I almost felt like an asshole. I had just been kind of tested by people for so many years in the service industry. One of the first things I learned was that I don't need to be up front helping the customers so much. Because she is awesome for that. We have girls working for us who are awesome for that. I don't need to do that. Its just learning stuff like that along the way. It's better to hide me in the kitchen. Keep me away from the customers. Maybe it's better for the shop overall. Its a lot of learning that. Taking your ego out of that.
M: I think the family was a lot of help for sure. I don't think we could have done this without my parents. They helped funds us, they also, my dad being a contractor he built our first shop. The entire thing.
B: On the cheap tip also.
M: Yeah. That was-
B: Very thrifty, not spending tons of money because we didn't have that much.
M: Yeah we were coming with nothing. We left New York and went traveling for long time and were like "what the fuck we gonna do now?" It was kind of a wild experience doing that.
B: Definitely rewarding though. I think you definitely learn a lot off it. I would recommend people to do it. Because if you think you work a lot now once you own a business you kind of redefine that word.
M: Mm-hmm, Its a lifestyle.
B: You never stop. You could be at home watching Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia and you get 2 emails about a detox package or about something else and you gotta hit people back. You can't say just fuck it.
M: Ice machine is broken, refrigerator is broken.
B: You have to stay on top of stuff. In any business where you're competing against other people you gotta be on point you know. If you're not going to answer that email then somebody else will and then there goes your money out the window.
M: I think what helped us a lot was living, I always go back to New York City. I was a hustler, I was a schlepper, I was running, I worked 24 hours a day. This kid was fucking slaying in the bar world. Its that lifestyle where no was not an answer ever in my vocabulary. I would get fired if no was an answer. Its if you just put your head down and we just started running. We were like lets just fucking do this. Being that it's not impossible. It's kind of weird when you watch those documentaries and they're like "if you really put your head to it you can make anything happen" and you're just like "OK dude..", buts it's kind of true in that way. If you want it to do it. Just make it happen, it's kind of the bottom line.
B: I mean if you try at anything, you really do try. Even if it doesn't work you can walk off and say fuck it man because you tried.
Do you guys feel like you're more involved in the community in Truckee and Reno?
M: Yeah it's a weird gamble in that you're trying to do the balance of both worlds for sure.
B: I think you have to invest yourself into a community if you're going to have a business there to some degree too. I know some people don't want to or some people want to go overboard with that concept. I think you just have to show people that you care. I think by treating them the same. Last summer we did Art town and Wingfield park every Wednesday in July. Did a lot of events in the city of Reno over the summer. In Truckee we definitely are all over the place. We do a lot of yoga work up there. A lot of stuff at Squaw.
M: Just donating towards certain events.
B: Truckee is a little different too because it's so small. Its very tightly knit there. Its not a struggle to get involved there. If you're willing to donate your time or effort or money to help something that, everyone in the town will come by your shop and say "hey thanks man I appreciate that." That's kind of awesome. Reno is kind too, we're still trying to understand it.
M: Because we're new here. I lived here, I went to UNR originally. Now coming back it's a whole new world. Even though I'm familiar it's still very untouched territory for us.
B: We're still meeting a lot of people here, there are people that will lead to collaborations. Doing different work inside the community. Stuff like that.
M: Now I feel that we're not these socialite people. We have been organically falling into these cool situations. Like, what's the compost company?
B: Rot Riders.
M: Rot Riders and they are so bad ass. We just randomly met them in our parking lot here. So now we are a part of the Reno compost program which is super huge for us because we go through a lot of pulp through the juicing process. In that way a lot of the stuff has happened really organically. Just from our neighbors and things like that. I definitely feel, I like our vibe in that way.
B: I think it's a two way street in terms of we can help the community and the community can help us. Lets all work it out. Easy.
M: Yeah and there is so much produce that's even growing more locally here now. Also in Tahoe there is also the Tahoe food hub there now. Here we have the drop from the co-op which is so awesome. There are so many programs that are happening.
B: Urban roots farm. We do a lot of stuff with them.
M: Yeah, love Urban roots.
B: We donate to a lot of their parties. We did Reno instagrammy's this year. We donated juice for that.
M: I think our whole next step is kind of education. Even with being across the street from the university. We have been talking to a lot of nutrition teachers here too. Kind of hand in hand collaborations. We're doing a very specific field that I think a lot of people could learn from and also maybe just be interested in in general. Health in general is such a huge thing. We're kind of narrowing it down. This is one way that you can get your vitamins without actually taking a pill. There's still a lot of work we can be doing always.
B: It will probably be like that for ever too. Every year you could just meet more people and do more stuff. That's what we're up for you know.
M: I want to be always more a part of it.
M: Every one is doing something amazing. So it's a time where like..
M: I feel it's the right place and the right time for us is seemingly what's happening.
B: We feel comfortable here, we enjoy Reno too as a city. A lot of really awesome stuff here going on.
M: A lot of opportunity.
B : Yeah and we're glad to be a part of that for sure.
That kind of brings me to my next one. What are your guy's next plans? What do you guys see in the future? Do you have any big events coming up?
B: I think in terms of future, we just started selling juice outside of the shop. We are going to really work to expand that. We're selling now in Blue Whale Coffee, Daily Method, Dark Horse.
M: The new Fizio-recovery gym and the Hyatt.
B: We're just kind of picking up accounts all over town and we really going to look to kind of spread that more next year. Because why not? We make really good juice and if we can sell it outside of our shop in other spots then we're definitely going to pursue that.
M: I think convenience is always really nice too. In Truckee we're kind of off the grid a little bit. We are in a very local community with lots of gyms. Here we're on the university and parking can be a little stressful. If I'm on the way home I'm like what's the closest things that I can go stop at. Or my one stop kind of shop. It will be nice to make it accessible to everyone. You can be in South Reno and you don't have to come to mid-town or downtown Reno for everything. Just kind of expanding in that way.
B: Not really knowing a whole lot about UNR before coming up here to start this shop here we're kind of like, I realized a lot of people won't come up here because it's a college. They think there's frat boys puking on the sidewalks everywhere. Slowly I think that stigma is burning off here. I think people are starting to realize because we have businesses up here now. We have Laughing Planet next door, I know they're trying to get some stuff going up the street even also.
M: Making more of a downtown university area or so.
B: Something more for students and also for other citizens of Reno can come up here and know it's not what it was 20 years ago. This neighborhood 20 years ago was really run down. Not safe. One chick described it as "rapey". I was like whoa.
M: Yeah that's right around after I was here. Yeah that was really annoying. That was intense.
B: I'm glad that this is starting to get cleaned up and I am glad that people are starting to venture up here again.
M: Not be afraid in that way.
B: Ultimately it kind of unites the City of Reno. It makes everyone feel comfortable in every part of the city.
M: Then with that we can start customizing. Really start making our shop for Reno. Also with Truckee. They are two different worlds we're realizing. Having the balance of both you know. We gotta make sure we're satisfying all the customers in both areas. That's a big struggle for me for sure. Finding different style of people and people want different things. Trying to satisfy everyone.
B: Here at this shop it's probably 90% students right now. The students don't order necessarily the same was as the people up in Truckee do. It's totally different styles. That's another learning process for us.
B: Different market up here. How can we make stuff for them that they want.
M: Make everyone happy and healthy.
So you guys have been in Reno for how long?
B: Living in Reno-
M: Year and a half.
B: Yeah year and a half.
What are your favorite parts about it and what do you think can be improved about it?
B: Midtown is definitely my favorite part of the whole city dude. I love it down there. The restaurants and bars down there are awesome.
M: We enjoy having a walking community because I hate driving and being back in a walking community is amazing.
B: Especially right now with stuff opening up.
M: Yeah there's great bars and the food is just mind blowing right now which is so amazing because I felt that we were spoiled living in cities too. We always tell everyone Reno is all right. It's such a hidden gem right now. I don't want people, it's exploding. Its all happening. How you don't have to wait in a 20 minute line for a restaurant, that's so amazing to me.
B: Or you go into a bar on a Wednesday night your not going to be standing 12 people deep trying to get something going.
M: Yes! It's so amazing it's going to change.
B: The bar tender will come right over to you. Hey what can I get for you, perfect.
M: Yeah. The museums and what Holland Project is doing is just so fucking bad ass. There is just so many small companies creating here right now. I totally dig on that. I'm all about small business creating this world. Reno is definitely turning into that it's cool.
Definitely. I know you're in a band, Ben. What other projects do you guys have? Outside of juicing.
B: Beyond juicing we try to travel as much as we can.
M: Traveling is number one on the list.
B: We just spent 2 weeks in Nicaragua about a month ago which was really awesome. We try to get out and see as much of the world as we can.
M: I feel that's important. Reno is amazing but the world is so incredible and seeing different cultures. Getting ideas. Every time we travel we come back and we're filled with creativity. I love seeing different cultures.
B: Something about getting away from your job if you can to some degree opens that part up in your brain. Lets you think about stuff you don't normally think about when you're stressing.
M: Also being in a relationship too and owning a company together. Its so wild. When we can actually just release ourselves and be able to just go travel.
B: Pretty awesome.
M: It's kind of more mellow lifestyle that we like.
B: Beyond that we're both pretty family oriented also. Music for me.
M: Anytime he has off he'll be in his studio for sure.
B: I'll try to go down and make noise for sure.
M: We're always working on art projects at home. I love photography. I think for me I feel that I'm part time juicer part time travel agent for us. Its always nice to have something coming towards us. We always try to plan out something and we'll always try to get in backpacking trips when we can do it here and there.
B: During the summer. We camp a lot too if we can. We go out do a lot of stuff like that. We have a couple dogs so we like to get them out as much as we can too. Because we work a lot usually.
M: The camping is the savior of life in the summer time. We just go, we don't go to camp grounds, you just go drive into somewhere and you just hike in and bring your pack with you. Then we'll get a couple of 3 days on the lake.
B: Fire permit and go to town.
M: You're the only person out there.
D: All over the place.
M: So incredible. Dream world.
B: Warmer weather.
M: We're definitely summer people for sure. It's a little struggle.
B : We have these REI gift cards that have been sitting at our house for a couple months. Lets just wait for a couple months till it warms up and we'll go rack those out.
M: Why would we buy winter thing? What would we do with those?
B: If we buy stuff now we're not going to use it till summer anyway.
Ben, do you want to elaborate on your band a little?
B: Yeah. I've been a musician my whole life. Both my parents are musicians. They played in a bluegrass band when I was growing up. That's one of the reasons I moved to New York City originally was to join a band. When we opened this shop here I met our next door neighbor Chad who owns the Dropout Bike shop. After looking through his records I noticed that we shared a lot of the same common interests and artists and stuff. I invited him over initially just retune up my drum kit. Then that kind of turned into hey would you want to record a couple songs at my house. Then from there, it's actually kind of funny. Our first gig ever we played with The Shivas, a band from Portland who I love.
B: At Specter Records. But Chad was in this other band called The Encounters. This three piece kind of garage punk band. They were supposed to play that show and their singer Mark got hit by a car a couple days before. Broke his collar bone. Couldn't do it. So me and Chad had played together once before that. So he asked me "Do you want to play this show?" I was like lets figure out some songs and do it. So I think we learned maybe six songs for the first show. Just went in and rocked it out.
M: Also a side note which is hilarious. At that point we had already hired The Shivas to play at our wedding. We just randomly emailed them "We love you guys you guys do you want to play at our wedding." Also side hobby music festivals for sure. Any music festival we can go to that plays surf rock we will be at. We were fuck he is opening for The Shivas and they didn't even know that we were the ones who hired them for our wedding. This is going to be so funny.
B: At the show I was hey guys nice to meet you I'm Ben.
M: We not stalking I promise.
B: I hope this doesn't sound psychotic but a couple months ago I emailed you about playing my wedding. They were like oh yeah. So we became friends with them through that. That was pretty awesome.
M: Yeah they are bad ass. The Shivas, the best.
B: They're one of my favorite bands. Just rad.
What's your guy's band name?
B: C menos. A bar I used to go to while back. The bartender there used to make fun of me because I would drink Coors Light constantly instead of these fancy IPAs and shit they had there. She just started calling me C minus. Me and Chad both share a love for Spanish language so we just translated that into the Spanish language version C menos. We're a two piece kind of surf garage band. Play really short fast songs. Trying to be as tight as possible.
Cool, that's pretty much all I got. Any last words?
B : Super. Thanks for talking to us. Thank you to Reno and Truckee for letting us have a business here. We're eternally grateful for that. We get to have a lot of freedom because of that and we really appreciate that end of it you know. Feel super lucky. My life could have gone so many different ways.
Here is a playlist these guys crank on when getting their juice on.