LOVES PARK (WREX) — Balancing a healthy diet and a busy life is a challenge for many of us. That struggle is part of the reason Thrive Café co-owner Jason Rager opened up the health-food restaurant.
"Well I've been in the fitness industry for over 20 years as a personal trainer," says Rager, "so with that led my passion to nutrition."
He says personal training clients would always ask where they could go to get something nutritious while on the go. His response would usually be one thing here or there, but mostly there was no place to get something healthy.
"There is so much fast food, but none of it is healthy," says Rager.
So in 2015, he decided to launch Thrive Café; a smoothie and juice bar that has since evolved into a full restaurant.
"I came up with how can I have something healthy, fast whether its in a cup or a bowl and taste good, but it also healthy for you."
Everything on the menu is made with fresh ingredients and has no dairy, additional fats or sugar. You can get cold-pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls and a variety of nourishing entrees.
"I wouldn't be in the restaurant business if I just had fried food, that doesn't fulfill me," says Rager.
"It's about serving with nutritious food. Really creating that niche, that gap that people don't have in their lives that they're looking for, that they want."
Since opening, business has grown every year, but Rager says the pandemic has been tough.
A number of staff members were laid off and foot traffic slowed. However, he says one good thing the pandemic has done is make people more aware of their health.
Something that has helped the café.
"It puts health more on a forefront for us, and I think more and more people will want to eat plant based, want to eat more nutritious to keep our immune system up and eat healthy," says Rager.
A push that has lead to new and old customers coming through the doors.
"We have people who come in here two times a day, working professionals, high schoolers who want something delicious and healthy. I love coming in here and doing this every day because we're helping people with their healthy journeys."
Thrive Café is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.