beeatroot deland reopens
THE CREW — Pictured are the three employees who keep DeLand juice bar Beeatroot running. From left are co-founder Wendy Ritchey, Kaleb Ayala and, holding a jar of one of Beeatroot’s many juices, Katana McCallister.

The much-loved juice bar ended a two-year hiatus as a labor of love to the community and in honor of one of the founders

When it opened in 2013, it didn’t take long for Beeatroot to become a Downtown DeLand staple. The juice bar, now located at 105 Artisan Alley in Downtown DeLand, boasted flavors DeLandites couldn’t get anywhere else, and owner Wendy Ritchey said she had visitors from all over Central Florida. 

People just couldn’t get enough of the bar’s one-of-a-kind beet juice and other drinks, made in-house with juicers that co-founder and owner Scott Ritchey built himself.

But in November 2020, when Scott Ritchey died after a car accident on State Road 44 outside of DeLand, everything had to be put on hold.

“It was very hard for a long, long time to do anything,” Wendy Ritchey said. “The last thing I was thinking of was this place.”

Coming back to Beeatroot wasn’t easy. Everywhere she looked, there were memories of her husband. But the support from the community has meant the world, she said.

The store reopened Sept. 28, after a hiatus of nearly two years.

“The first day, we got slammed,” Wendy Ritchey said.

Two years later, things are a little different than they were the last time Beeatroot was open. The juice bar serves vegan food now, including salads and grain bowls, and the juicing process is now a combo of the old ways developed by Scott Ritchey and new methods.

But the community support of the juice bar and, by extension, the Ritchey family has been great, Ritchey said.

It’s “bittersweet,” she said. “It’s hard, but it’s good.”

In total, Beeatroot keeps the community juiced up with just three staff members: Ritchey, longtime Beeatroot employee Kaleb Ayala, and volunteer- turned-employee Katana McCallister.

Ritchey thought about selling the juice bar multiple times during its 22-month break, but nothing felt quite right.

“The idea seemed nice,” she said, but the right candidate to become the new owner of her juice bar — her baby — never quite came forward.

And then came Ayala. He had worked for the Ritcheys for around four years before Scott’s death.

Ayala was already practically family, and now Ritchey is teeing him up to be her successor as Beeatroot’s owner.

Ayala’s thankful for the opportunity to ensure the community has its juice for many years to come.

“It came at a time in my life when I needed it,” Ayala said, “and the community needs it.”

In a lot of ways, he said, Scott Ritchey was like his father. “I’ll never fill the shoes. The goal is just to honor him and pay homage to the person he was for me,” Ayala said.

Now that Beeatroot is back open, Wendy Ritchey thanked everyone for being patient with her and the business, and for coming back all this time later.

“We really appreciate people coming in and supporting us,” she said.

Beeatroot is open 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. The business will also open for special events like the DeLand Indie Market.


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