NJMOMpreneur: Renee Dorski, JÜS Organic, Atlantic Highlands

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What do you do when you leave New York to move home to the Jersey suburbs but miss all the city’s great food options? You open your own all-organic restaurant, inspired by the cuisines of your global travels and local farmers’ markets. That’s what Renee Dorski did when she opened JÜS Organic in Atlantic Highlands after 13 years of living in foodie-heaven Williamsburg, Brooklyn. At her vibrant community eatery, Renee now whips organic, well-sourced ingredients into fresh creations with fun names like Brazilian Beauty and Sex Dust Hot Chocolate. Renee invited NJMOM into her kitchen and shared how her daughters’ health and well-being inspired her to create JÜS Organic, their favorite items off the kids’ menu, and a new SAT word to show off your culinary prowess – adaptogenic. Read on for more about Renee’s healthy (and delicious) venture, and scroll to our video at the bottom to get to know Renee more in person.

Owner of JÜS Organic & NJMOMpreneur:
Renee Dorski

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Renee Dorski, Owner of  JÜS Organic. Photo via Chelsea Rizzolo

NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Renee: JÜS Organic is more than just a juice bar; we’re a full all-organic restaurant. Our focus is on breakfast, lunch, juices, smoothies. We have a full kids’ menu, so that makes us a little bit different from others in our field. We also have an adaptogenic beverage menu, which sounds really fancy! An adaptogenic plant is any kind of plant, herb, mushroom, or root that adapts with your body to combat certain stresses. So we’ll use those supplements to boost your coffee or teas once you decide what you need for the day.

The whole vision around my food is that it’s really simple, and really well-sourced.

I take a lot of time in sourcing each ingredient in order to find the best choices possible. For example, we offer a yogurt that I get from Brooklyn called Anita’s that’s 100% vegan coconut yogurt, and super lean. The ingredients are just coconut milk, probiotics, and coconut water. It totally fits what we strive to do here, which is to serve clean food that’s well-sourced and really yummy.

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Photo via Chelsea Rizzolo

NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Renee: Originally, I’m from South Jersey in the Ocean County area. After I moved away from home, I lived in Brooklyn for 13 years where I became very accustomed to good food and lots of restaurants in the neighborhood. My husband and I, with our first-born daughter, moved here to Atlantic Highlands five years ago. I had my second daughter here, who is now four years old. Living here with my family has been great, but I felt like the one thing lacking was a healthy option. There was nothing nearby; in Asbury Park, you have a lot of great, healthy places that are farm-to-table, but Atlantic Highlands was missing that.

I also felt like there was a need for a community space – somewhere people could gather. You’ll see that our space is big and open, and I designed it for the purpose of inviting people in and gathering together. My two options were that I either opened this restaurant, or I was moving. I opened JÜS Organic because I wanted to stay here!

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Photo via SRS Photography

NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Renee: Some people come into JÜS Organic and have no idea about healthy food, or they’ve never tried anything like this. My biggest enjoyment is having someone new to that idea, walking them through it, getting them to try something different that they might not have tried, and seeing them like it. There was a girl who used to work for me whose grandfather came in, and we made him a kids’ smoothie from our menu called the Jungle Bug, with mango, strawberry, kale, and coconut milk. He said, “I don’t know about that kale stuff!” We had to really work on him, but eventually, we got him to try it and he ended up coming back again and again.

NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Renee: I grew up with a single father, so I had to learn pretty quickly how to cook. I also spent a lot of time with my grandmother, sitting on the counter cooking with her and my grandfather. I was a vegetarian from a very young age, about 13 years old. Back then it was not easy finding good vegetarian food, so that also forced me to take an interest in cooking my own food and seeking out good food in restaurants – there weren’t many options then.

I always say that I’m a self-taught chef. I have taken classes at the Natural Gourmet Institute, but I don’t have any kind of formal certification. I’d just say, “I’m going to take a knife skill class!” or “I want to try out this Macrobiotics class!” I just always had a passion for food and cooking. I was also a massage therapist for six years full-time at the Mandarin Oriental in New York, so I went to school and was trained for health and wellness. These were concepts I was always attracted to and still utilize here at JÜS Organic.

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Photo via Chelsea Rizzolo

NJMOM: What can we expect from you in 2018?
Renee: This place was a long time in the making and it was a pretty big journey to get here. I have pretty clear two-, five-, and ten-year plans for JÜS Organic. I was fortunate enough to hire a friend of mine as a consultant who helped me with the business plan. I tend to get really passionate about certain ideas, and she’s really able to hone me in and help me to focus on things that need my attention in that moment.

In the immediate future, we’re in the process of going for a variance through the town. We have an outdoor space on our property, but I don’t have permission yet to use it. We’re planning to blow out a big portion of the wall and open it up into the outdoors. I would love to do small, well-sourced pop-up markets. Having lived in Williamsburg, I saw that the area grew when they would hold their markets and artisan fleas. It was so cool to bring to people into the neighborhood that way, so we want to do the same thing here by expanding our outdoor area. I designed this space with the intention of doing more workshops and classes – maybe a craft hour in the kids’ corner, bring in some chefs from the city and run a workshop. I want to add value to the community and see what they want. I know I want it!

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Photo via Chelsea Rizzolo

NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Renee: Beth Herbruck of Good Folk Supper Club is a role model of mine and the first person that I met when I moved here. I didn’t know anybody at the time, and I was at Dearborn Market walking through the plants and having a moment like, “I don’t know if I should have moved to the suburbs.” I was really conflicted. Beth came up to me and slipped me a piece of paper with her phone number and said, “I like beer and I have kids.” I thought in that moment that it was all going to be okay. We then forged a friendship that only grew. Before she had the Supper Club (I’m sure it was in her mind at the time), I would confide in her my thoughts about living here and missing the city – including the fact that the city had so many healthy options. She said something that stuck with me: “Whatever you miss from Brooklyn, create it.” It inspired me to make this business happen.

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Photo via Chelsea Rizzolo

NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice you received from a role model?
Renee: My grandmother is another role model of mine. She always sang while she cooked, and she really put a lot of love and passion into her food – and her food is simple. She cooked a lot of Italian food because her husband was from Italy. There was no measured recipe; the garlic went in, and the tomatoes went in. The fact that she was always singing and always put love in her food is really what made her food delicious. And because it was so simple (sometimes it was only four ingredients), it was an amazing meal because you could taste each ingredient. Each item brings its own personality.

I don’t think food needs to be super complicated. It’s like a good song – it’s only a couple chords.

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Renee’s two daughters. Photo via SRS Photography

NJMOM: How did your daughters influence JÜS Organic’s kids’ menu?
Renee: My daughters are four and seven years old, and their palates are pretty different. We always joke around and say that since my seven-year-old grew up in the city for the first three years, she has a more expansive palate. Whereas my other one is more of a pizza and mac and cheese kind of kid. In our area, there are a lot of kids’ menus with those typical American dishes: chicken fingers, mac and cheese, hamburgers – which is all good! There’s no judgment there.

Our kids’ menu is different because it’s really healthy, but also very colorful. I treat the kids the same way as the adults. Our lunch items come out on a wooden board, and it’s presented in a very inviting way. But with the kids, I’ll cut the crust off because, you know, I’m a mom! There’ll be some carrot sticks with a little apple, but then I’ll put a little bit of honey on top. The bread we use on the kids’ menu is also a little different than the adults; it’s softer and not as crusty.

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Photo via SRS Photography

My daughter Leora loves our Green Leaf, which is avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. My other daughter is a pain in the butt because she likes half and half – she wants two sandwiches but only half of each, and it has to be cut into squares. So this is what I’m dealing with here! Her choice is the Finch Jr. with sun butter and banana, and the other half is hummus. I think people appreciate it when they come in here with their kids because I’m used to all kinds of demands with my own. As long as the end result is that they eat something healthy, even if they’re not my kid, I’m winning. I’ll sneak a tiny piece of kale in their smoothie – I get so much enjoyment from it.

NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Renee: We’ve lived in Atlantic Highlands for five years and it’s great, I love it. It’s a beautiful, little Victorian town with a cute school, and we’re less than five miles from the beach. It’s great to have the New York Harbor right here where you can see the skyline better than anywhere else in the area. There’s a cute diner in town, a nice little Thai spot, and also a great bakery right down the street from JÜS Organic.

Renee Dorski JUS Organic

Photo via Chelsea Rizzolo

NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Renee: Opening a business is like having a new baby, and it’s affected my family the same way as when I had my second daughter. For me, I wasn’t going to have any more kids, but I was pregnant with this idea for a long time. I had to think, was I ready to birth this business baby? It’s really like a living thing that needs an insane amount of constant attention. Are you ready to open your home to your business? The whole family is affected while mommy’s busy creating it. But it also feels really good to know that I’m building something that’s mine. And my two daughters are seeing another aspect of myself, too. It’s very positive.

NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Renee: All the moms in the area are an inspiration to me. They’ll come in here with the kids and share their stories and what they’re dealing with. It allows us to relate to each other and say, “My kid’s like that! Mine does that!” It truly takes a village.

To learn more about JÜS Organic, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.

{cover photo via SRS Photography}


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About Author

Chelsea is a freelance writer and photographer based in the kid-friendly community of Asbury Park, and she loves sharing tips and news about this cultural beach town with NJMOM readers. When she's not discovering new bike trails, playing in her handbell choir, or reading on the beach, Chelsea works as a Children's Library Associate at a public library. You can catch her out in Asbury Park watching her husband play drums with talented local artists - be sure to come say hello!

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