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Finding Balance

As owner of Ruby Jean’s Juicery, Chris Goode believes a healthy lifestyle is all about finding balance. 

“It’s a lifestyle of always having the ability to bring yourself back to center if you get off track,” Goode says. “Not seeking perfection or beating yourself up, but just having a sense of balance in the things that you eat, the things that you drink and just your life in general.” 

Ruby Jean’s started in 2015 as a way to honor Goode’s late grandmother, the company’s namesake, who passed away at 61 years old due to Type 2 diabetes. Goode, like his grandmother, grew up on soul food and continued to eat it throughout college. It didn’t cause a noticeable impact on his health because he was an athlete and very active. After college, he noticed it would be difficult to maintain his physical well-being eating the way he was. Then, a couple of his friends living in Los Angeles introduced him to juice cleansing. 

“That was really the point for me, where I thought, ‘Ok, I kind of need to look at this through a more detailed lens,” he says. 

The Ruby Jean’s menu began with different recipes Goode would make for himself at home. 

“I just always wanted to make sure that the menu was very simple and straightforward but healthy and still had the ability to taste good,” he says. “But I started from things I did myself and just worked out from there. I traveled a bunch and got a lot of inspiration from different places around the country. I’d never just TAKE a menu item, even from someone out of state or out of the country, but I’d try to re-interpret it for us in a very simplistic manner.”

Their pineapple carrot juice, for instance, was inspired by time he spent in Philadelphia for work. 

“I was a catastrophe adjuster before I started Ruby Jean’s, and I traveled to Philadelphia for work,” Goode recalls. “They had this amazing outdoor market down there. I would walk to the market on my days when I was working in Philly. They had this pineapple and carrot juice that was amazing and the place had it on special. I would get one every single day. We have a pineapple and carrot juice specifically because of that reason.”

Goode opened his first store in Westport, at 48th and Broadway. Starting in Westport allowed them to establish a diverse customer base before more opportunities presented themselves. He’s also opened locations in Springfield, Mo., downtown Kansas City, in the Whole Foods in Brookside and at 30th and Troost. While they haven’t been open on Troost for long, Goode believes they’re a catalyst in the neighborhood.

“I remember the area from 30 plus years ago,” he says. “To see it start to turn the corner, and have a hand in actually turning that corner, and being a place where you will see all walks of life now is just a pretty cool experience. For me, being able to do what we do at 30th and Troost, and see the diversity in our clientele, I would say is probably my greatest accomplishment. It’s something that has never been done. We are the only all-healthy establishment on the entire East side of our city, in our city’s history. For me, that’s not like a ‘great job, Chris’ thing, that’s like a ‘great job, Kansas City’ thing, because it reflects progress and growth. For us to be at the center of it is amazing.” 

Goode recently became a board member at Operation Breakthrough. His connection came naturally because Ruby Jean’s is not only located across the street, but they’ve collaborated together before with pop-up juice sampling or fundraisers. 

Goode also attended Operation Breakthrough, formerly known as St. Vincent’s, for daycare growing up. He hopes to provide a different optic for the kids at Operation Breakthrough and show them what following your passion can look like and where it has taken him. 

“As a board member, I’m still very, very new, but I hope that my impact will be felt for the kids and the families that are me and my family today,” he says. “I hope that they see a face that feels familiar, and in that familiarity they see themselves and they see, you know, this guy is doing this thing that’s unique—he looks like me, sounds like me, he actually went to this place that I’m going to now. So I think for me, I hope to be just a further example of what these kids can become and only the beginning of that statement.” 

A focus on the people who walk into Ruby Jean’s is vital for Goode and his business. 

“We stand for true health and doing it in a way that just welcomes people into that fold. And people, period,” he says. “People of all shapes, sizes, creeds, races, cultures. We want people to be at the core of understanding why we’re so passionate about this because my grandmother was just a person.” 

Building a healthier community remains at the core of Ruby Jean’s purpose. 

“Community is everything to me,” Goode says. “I grew up right here in Kansas City, I’ve lived in every different corner of this city. I love being here. I love just the vibe of Kansas City, and I feel that we have only scratched the surface. I feel that the healthier we become as a city, especially micro pockets of the city, East side of Kansas City and others, I think that it will only get better. I think that we have the ability to share that message in a way that connects.”