Derek Shaw wasn't thinking about his own health so much -- at 31 and a lifelong athlete, Shaw's eating and exercise habits were good. Instead, he was thinking about his father, who suffered a massive heart attack at 55 and was now struggling to find healthier dietary options that tasted good.
"We really struggled to find places where he could find alternatives to sugar- and fat-laden menus," said Shaw, who works in medical device sales. "It wasn't easy."
That's when Shaw found Nekter Juice Bar, a California-based juice and smoothie shop with more than 60 locations nationwide. Shaw has now opened a Tyler location of Nekter Juice Bar in The Village at Cumberland Park.
"I've always had a focus on health and wellness," Shaw explained. "I've always been in sports, including playing baseball at Louisiana Tech. So I've always been aware of the importance of healthy eating."
When Shaw moved to Tyler from the Shreveport area, he made a point of seeking out the hard-to-find offerings.
His father, however, showed him that many people have little awareness of good eating habits and many even harbor misconceptions.
"My dad is a good example of that," Shaw said. "When he had his heart attack, his doctor basically told him to adopt a vegan diet. It was that serious. But that's hard to do. Dad struggled to find healthy, quick options."
That was the appeal of Nekter. Shaw had visited juice bars, but Nekter offers more - smoothies and acai bowls and cleanses as well.
"And it all tastes good," he said.
That's one of the misconceptions about healthy eating, he added.
"It doesn't have to taste bad," Shaw said. "People come in and say ‘Well, give me my vegetables.' But what we give them tastes great and they hardly notice they're getting their vegetables and eating well."
It starts with the juice drinks. The most popular, Shaw said, is the "Toxin Flush," a combination of parsley, spinach, apple, lemon and ginger. It has a tartness and a crispness that his customers find refreshing and energizing.
The Berry Banana Burse is the most popular of the smoothies, he added. It has strawberry, banana, blueberry, housemade cashew milk, and some agave nectar.
The bowls include the Acai Peanut Butter bowl, which includes acai, banana, strawberry, dates, peanut butter and housemade cashew milk blended together and topped with hempseed granola, topped with fresh strawberries, bananas and agave nectar.
There are add-ons, such as superfoods, nut butters and proteins. The whey protein is the only item Nekter sells that isn't vegan.
"One thing I really liked about Nekter, over other juice bar concepts, is the variety," Shaw said. "There's really something for everyone, whether it's a guy coming in from the gym needing his protein, to a mom and her kids. There's something everyone will enjoy here."
Nekter also offers juice cleanses, ranging in duration (from one to five days) and intensity.
Shaw describes a juice cleanse as "a resetting of your body to a more natural state."
"It floods your body with essential vitamins and nutrients," he added.
Nekter doesn't make any medical claims about cleanses.
"We always say listen to your body," Shaw said. "It knows what it needs."
Nekter will partner with area fitness and wellness businesses to help round out a healthier lifestyle, Shaw said. At its grand opening Saturday, BeFree Yoga was on hand to offer coupons for free yoga sessions and XTC offered free body composition tests.
"We will work with people where they are," he said. "If you're just starting out, or you have some experience, we can work with you to help you find what you like, and to help you live a more healthy lifestyle."
Nekter was started in 2010 by Steve and Alexis Schulze in Orange County, Calif. Shaw hopes to open more Nekter franchises in the Dallas area in coming months.