The Maca Root Juice Bar & Eatery
A lesson in trusting your gut
Kelly VanCauwenbergh can credit her gut for the successful business she and her husband, Brad, have built in downtown Sandusky. It was Kelly’s own health journey that led her to discover the nutrient-dense clean smoothies, juices, and good-for-your-gut foods now offered at Maca Root Juice Bar & Eatery. And it was her gut instincts that created the business environment customers keep coming back to.

The Maca Root Juice Bar & Eatery first opened in 2018 at 305 E. Water Street in Sandusky. It was important to Kelly that people had an option to eat well and feel better. She herself had battled autoimmune issues for years before discovering functional medicine and the idea that what you put on or in your body will either feed or fight disease. She discovered making the right choice can be surprisingly convenient and delicious. But options to do so locally were limited at the time.
Kelly knows that food is social. “Being well isn’t just what you eat, it’s connection to other people. That’s as important to health as the other choices you make, and we want to cultivate that here.”, says Kelly. She realized the absence of a place where friends and family can gather for clean food was a huge gap in our market, and Maca Root set out to fill it.

Kelly & Brad started small – a 1 year lease in 400 sq. ft. shared space to launch their grab-and-go juice bar and eatery. But they didn’t shortchange preparation. They spent 8 months generating excitement at pop-up markets and events and created a huge following of supporters. From there, business exploded and in just two years, they’d outgrown their small start.
Fast Facts
  • A 3X bigger Maca Root opened in downtown Sandusky this year after a $60,000 investment and great care
  • In a busy month, Maca Root goes through 1,100 pounds of bananas
  • Best selling smoothie is the Pink Dragon (but owner's favorite is the Mocha Nana and the Baja Power Bowl!)
As Kelly began dreaming of their next location, it was a time to trust her instincts again. “If I were my own customer, what would I want?” Kelly & Brad are avid travelers and often make a restaurant choice after peeking in a door and seeing it’s atmosphere and comfort. With this in mind, they unveiled the new larger Maca Root space in March this year. Triple the square footage, Kelly & Brad have been able to expand and introduce so many new elements to the business and space they love.
  • Bigger indoor and outdoor cozy seating areas – conducive to working professionals, friends catching up, bible study, and more
  • Double the preparation space – allowing them to add burritos, paninis, bowls, and a specialty coffee bar to the menu
  • Double the storage – allowing them to introduce popular new services like Juice Cleanses and Body Resets (1-3 day meal plans)
  • A wide-open service counter so friendly staff can welcome new faces or get started on regular orders from familiar loyal customers
  • Coolers and display space to support other local foodies – like honey, bakers, coffee roasters, and medicinal mushrooms
  • Clean lines and surfaces to help customers get that Instagramable shot – like many foodies, Kelly believes food is experienced in more ways than one, and she and the Maca Root customers relish in just how beautiful a smoothie bowl can be
The new location at 216 E Water Street is still in the same buzzing area of downtown Sandusky. (A coastal themed bar, Paddle Bar, has already opened in their old location.) Renovations at 216 were comprehensive but pay homage to the industrial history of the building with exposed brick, concrete flooring, and high ceilings. Kelly’s been amazed at the response from returning and new customers. These days her only struggle in the space is finding a minute to get work done. Kelly still loves working in the business, behind the counter or greeting guests. For her, the bills and paperwork can wait. It’s relationships with a great team and customers that have built her business and each visitor is a chance to have them feel well and feel their team’s well wishes.

Been participating in a little holiday indulgence? Stop by Maca Root Juice Bar & Eatery to clean up with a host of plant-based, gluten-free, dairy-free, organic snack and meal options.
"Before" pictures of the new Maca Root space
Did You Know?
Kelly's found her instincts a useful tool in understanding what her customer is looking for. But she's also known for her diligent research and attention to detail. "You don't know what you don't know", Kelly always says. Kelly utilized ECEDC's RISE program and its team of business advisors to expand her start-up knowledge bank and avoid blind-spots when opening her business. Watch this video to hear what she has to say about RISE.
Stay Tuned for Day 6: Everwild Spirits
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The 12 Days of Development email series recognizes and celebrates another year of progress in Erie County, Ohio. December 1st - 12th, you will receive email spotlights on a company investing, improving and innovating in our community. We can't capture it all, so let us know a neighbor we missed or what activities you've got planned to make the 2022 list! #ErieCounty12Days