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Karma Juice Bar & Eatery celebrates 10 years

Ashley Morales

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A local staple is celebrating a momentous milestone – its 10th anniversary.

Founded in 2014 by the mother-daughter duo, Josie Barber and April Lupkey, Karma Juice Bar & Eatery has grown to three locations: one in downtown St. Pete and two in Clearwater. The heath-focused eatery serves salads, sandwiches, acai bowls and smoothies. 

Born in the Philippines, Barber made the decision to relocate to the United States at the age of 20. When her daughter wanted to open a juice bar, Barber left her career in interior design and helped start Karma, where she began her journey of exploring food’s power over health and happiness.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer and calcification build-up, so I decided to change my lifestyle a little bit, because I was always going, going, going and stressed, not eating the right foods because I traveled so much,” Barber told the Catalyst. “I told [my doctor], ‘I don’t want to take chemotherapy and I just want to heal on my own. Give me a year.’ So I did that and lo and behold, a year later, I go back and they said, ‘I don’t know what you did, but you the calcifications are gone.’ And now I always, always believe food is medicine.”

Barber said she’s been able to build loyalty with her staff by providing “above average” wages and taking part in reentry programs for formerly incarcerated individuals, “trying to help them get back into their lives.”

Barber said a passion for helping their customers on their journey to healthier eating has helped Karma thrive over the past decade. They also focus on preventing cross-contamination, and catering to customer’s food allergies and sensitivities.

“When they come to Karma, they know what they’re eating,” Barber said. “We have a lot of customers who tell us, ‘We’re getting sick,’ or ‘I want to better myself, my eating habits,’ or ‘My daughter has IBS.’ So we have helped a lot of people with clean eating.”

Karma’s reputation has earned Barber and Lupkey awards and accolades over the years, including being named “The Healthiest Place to Eat in St. Pete” by Women’s Health. Barber said they couldn’t do it without their staff and base of loyal customers.

“It’s been a great journey. It’s a lot of work, with the pandemic on top of that. But we survived, and we’ve been helping a lot of people for 10 years, including myself,” Barber said. “At times, I’m tired; but I feel like I owe it to the community to stay open because they look after me.”

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Davanna

    March 30, 2024at5:27 pm

    don’t they have a location in SafetyHarbor?

  2. Avatar

    Kari

    March 29, 2024at8:48 pm

    Congratulations! Love that place!

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