2023 Innovator Award Winner

HONORS | Experienced Alumnae

Ammy Lowney, SSH’05

Founder and Owner, JUICYGREENS

Tahisha Charles Miixtapechiick

At JUICYGREENS, A Healthy Taste of the World, Without Leaving the Neighborhood

by Molly Callahan   |   October 13, 2023

JUICYGREENS, Ammy Lowney’s wellness cafe and juice bar, serves up plant-based, health-conscious juices, smoothies, power bowls, and more—all in the name of food justice and access. With a menu that’s as sustainable as it is delicious, and a mission to uplift her communities, Lowney is cooking up success.

To walk into JUICYGREENS Wellness Cafe and Juice Bar is to be transported to an urban oasis. No longer are you in the bustling business center of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, surrounded by whizzing cars and the incessant popping sounds of pickleball players.

Instead, walking through the door of the mint green building is like a warm embrace. Lush, verdant plants hang from the ceiling and climb the walls; wholesome, nutritious (and local) snacks and drinks pepper shelves throughout the gleaming cafe; and floor-to-ceiling windows let in vibrant, natural light—and a view of those pickleball courts, if you’re so inclined to watch. 

And that’s not even the best part. Behind the counter, knowledgeable employees whip up cold-pressed juices, superfood smoothies, power bowls, salads, signature plant-based arepas, and more. The magic ingredients—those namesake juicy greens—are in the kitchen. 

Indeed, the idea for JUICYGREENS itself started in a kitchen, says owner and founder Ammy Lowney. For years before she ever started a business, the Boston Public Schools teacher made juices and smoothies for friends and family from her own kitchen—to rave reviews. 

“I’m not even kidding, my friends were effusive,” she says with a laugh. 

At the time, Lowney was a civics teacher, leading her class in a yearly project that always yielded powerful results. Lowney challenged her 11th and 12th grade students to consider a social problem in their communities, then come up with an idea to solve it. Lowney paired groups of students with local organizations and the groups worked together to build out real solutions that could be implemented in the community. 

In her sixth year assigning the project, Lowney and her class focused on food access and poverty. Her students organized around issues such as food scarcity, food justice, and food poverty—inequalities that hit close to home in the commonwealth’s historically segregated cities and towns.

Take Lawrence, Massachusetts, for example. Home to predominantly Black and Latinx populations, Lawrence also qualifies as a food desert, an area defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as one in which “at least 100 households are located more than one-half mile from the nearest supermarket and have no vehicle access; or at least 500 people, or 33 percent of the population, live more than 20 miles from the nearest supermarket, regardless of vehicle availability.”

These areas of food inequality exist within Boston city limits, as well. A study from Harvard University found that “Dorchester and Roxbury have significant food access disparities,” while neighboring “West Roxbury is officially classified as a food desert.”

Lowney’s students were invested in these issues, and so was she. 

“At the end of the project, we realized everything was connected: food justice, climate change, how to solve issues of obesity and sustainability: It all came back to eating more plant-based foods, and eating more locally,” she recalls.

“I wanted to know what it was like to run a business, to be an entrepreneur, and food was a passion; I wanted to feel that I was having an impact.”

Ammy Lowney, SSH’05

“I wanted to know what it was like to run a business, to be an entrepreneur, and food was a passion; I wanted to feel that I was having an impact.”

—Ammy Lowney, SSH’05

The realization piqued Lowney’s interest. She was already invested in making highly nutritious juices, smoothies, and bowls for her family and friends. And, her family had always been in the business of food: Growing up in Barranquilla, in the northern part of Colombia, Lowney remembers her grandmother selling fruit at the local plaza. “We knew how to hustle,” she says. Lowney, too, started to feel an inkling to run a business. 

“It was like I had an itch to open a business. I wanted to know what it was like to run a business, to be an entrepreneur,” Lowney says. “And food was a passion; I wanted to feel that I was having an impact, and this was easy to get into.” 

So Lowney enrolled in a program at CommonWealth Kitchen, a nonprofit food-business incubator in Dorchester, to experiment with her health food concept. Her recipe for success turned into JUICYGREENS, which opened in 2017. 

In the years since, the business has grown, and now has four locations: In addition to Jamaica Plain, Lowney has storefronts in Somerville’s Assembly Row, Hub Hall in Boston’s West End, and, most recently, Westwood, a town south of Boston. Lowney introduced English language and business leadership courses for her employees, and constantly shuffles the menu to reduce food waste. JUICYGREENS has also gained critical acclaim in news outlets including Eater Boston, Boston Magazine, and WCVB, as well as local outlets such as the Bay State Banner and Jamaica Plain News. In 2022, she was named to the Boston Business Journal’s Power 50 Movement Makers—an annual list of “Boston-area business people who are making the biggest impact on the region.” 

Lowney, who moved to Massachusetts in 2002 as a transfer student at Northeastern University, won praise from her alma mater for her innovative, and thriving, business in this year’s Women Who Empower Innovator Awards

Organized by Northeastern’s Office of University Advancement, the annual awards recognize founders and business leaders with financial and entrepreneurial support. The 28 winners in Lowney’s cohort received a portion of the organization’s largest total prize ever—$500,000—as well as companionship with a global network of women who are creating, running, and iterating on ventures across myriad disciplines and business sectors. To date, Women Who Empower has recognized 69 entrepreneurs with Innovator Awards over the course of three years, and has dispersed more than $820,000 to three cohorts of incisive, creative entrepreneurs.

Betsy Ludwig, executive director for women’s entrepreneurship at Northeastern, and one of the Innovator Award organizers, noted Lowney’s commitment to pay it forward, as well as her natural business instincts.

“Ammy exemplifies the core values of Women Who Empower, embodying a profound commitment to uplifting and supporting the next generation of women entrepreneurs,” Ludwig says. “She is generous with her time, resources, and mentorship—as well as her delicious, sustainably sourced food. We are proud to support the advancement of Ammy’s innovative, eco-friendly, and socially impactful venture.”

As Lowney’s business has grown, her palate has, too. The menu at JUICYGREENS is a canvas, colored with Lowney’s travels and experiences. There’s her Colombian culture, represented by the cafe’s plant-based arepas (a must-try). There’s her commitment to food justice and health, as expressed through the myriad juice, smoothie, and bowl options featuring nutrient-dense local foods. Recently, Lowney visited France and Iceland, and she’s already considering new menu items to highlight her culinary adventure. 

From Paris, she gained inspiration to use fresh herbs, she says. “We already use cilantro, dill, and parsley, and now I’m looking to incorporate more.” In Iceland, she had “the best overnight oats I’ve ever had,” an experience that may soon translate into a JUICYGREENS menu item. 

While the menu is ever-changing, Lowney’s passion—for serving up healthy food with a global influence, for uplifting her community, and for solving problems big and small—remains constant.