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Stacy Kennedy (left) and Stacy Madison at their Stacy’s Juicebar in Needham.
Stacy Kennedy (left) and Stacy Madison at their Stacy’s Juicebar in Needham. SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF/Globe staff

NEEDHAM — Two women named Stacy walk into a juice bar. Sounds like the setup for a joke, but the punch line is that it’s true. Stacy Madison and Stacy Kennedy recently opened a juice bar here, named, of course, Stacy’s Juicebar.

The shop, attractively done up in a playful industrial style that features high ceilings, exposed ductwork, and colorful tables in juice tones, offers more than just juice: A refrigerated case is stocked with salads and sandwiches, and one popular menu item is a dairy-free raw vegetable lasagna, layered with cashew “ricotta” and kale-basil pesto.

A steady stream of customers attests to the popularity of the new spot, which had its official opening last month. Juices and smoothies — made with fruits, vegetables, and an array of ingredients like almond milk, peanut butter, and pea protein — run in the $8 to $9 range for 16 ounces, and the owners say the bar sold 5,100 smoothies and 3,200 juices in its first six weeks.

If Madison’s name sounds familiar, that might be because this serial entrepreneur has headed other food businesses. She created Stacy’s Pita Chips in 1997 with her then-husband, beginning by peddling pita sandwiches from a cart in downtown Boston. “At the end of the day we would take whatever bread we had and bake it into chips, then give them to people standing in line,” says Madison, 49. The chips’ popularity soon outstripped the sandwiches, and chips became the focus of the business. Sales approached $60 million, and the company was bought by PepsiCo in 2005. It now operates as a unit of Frito-Lay.

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A juice bar might seem like a considerably easier business to run, but Madison thought she should not do it alone. She began networking to find a partner, and, she says, “Someone in the juicing world said, ‘You should talk to Stacy Kennedy.’ ” Kennedy, 39, is a nutritionist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a longtime juicing enthusiast with a master’s degree in public health who could bring both know-how and credibility to the enterprise. Ordering at a juice bar can be confusing, says Madison (chia seeds? goji berries? wheatgrass shots?), and having a nutritionist in the house who can explain the options “is one reason we have a competitive advantage.”

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Raw vegetable lasagna at Stacy’s Juicebar.
Raw vegetable lasagna at Stacy’s Juicebar.SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF

For her part, Kennedy, who grew up in Maryland and lives in Wellesley with her husband and two young children, is happy to be part of an enterprise that helps her put theory into practice. “As a nutritionist, I recommend that people eat a certain way,” she says, “but it can be hard to implement. People need fast, healthy options.” Juice, says Kennedy, “can be a tool to increase fruit and vegetable consumption.”

Madison, a native of Sharon now living in Westwood, is a single mother of 10-year-old twin girls; she traveled extensively with them when they were little, after she sold the pita business. The next step was working with private-equity group Fireman Capital. One of the deals she was involved with was Evolution Fresh (now owned by Starbucks), which specializes in juice. “That was when I started drinking juice all the time,” says Madison, “and started to understand the health and nutrition benefits of juice.”

Her work often took her to New York, and there, she says, “every single block has a juice bar.” That alone was enough to get Madison’s entrepreneurial juices flowing, so to speak. But another motivating factor was her twins. “I wanted them to be exposed to what it’s like to build a business and grow it. And I wanted it to be something simple and tangible they could see. Just like the pita chips, you make the best product, you package it, you sell it, and you pay the rent and pay for your groceries. It’s a little harder for them to understand private equity,” says Madison.

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It’s easy to picture the Stacy’s Juicebar model replicating itself throughout the suburbs, but Madison says that’s not in the cards. “I get asked five or 10 times a day, ‘When are you opening in Westwood or Wellesley?’ ” she says. “But there is no plan for expansion. I just wanted another job I loved doing day to day.”

STACY’S JUICEBAR 1257 Highland Ave., Needham, 781-444-5842.


Jane Dornbusch can be reached at jdornbusch@verizon.net.