· By Flow Water
How Shirin Chalabiani Keeps it Fresh
Offering a diverse mix of juices, smoothies, and bowls, Bolt Juice Bar has become a local favourite for health-conscious residents of Toronto’s trendy Parkdale neighbourhood. Flow Water recently caught up with Owner and General Manager Shirin Chalabiani to discuss health, community, and how she finds her flow.
FW: What was the catalyst for opening Bolt?
SC: My business partner, Eddie, was the one who had the concept, idea, and brand. He’s lived in Parkdale all his life, and he was sick of having to travel outside his community to get something green. If you wanted a green juice or a salad, there was nowhere in this area to get it.
FW: What makes Bolt unique in Toronto?
SC: You can get your hot food, your raw food, your salad, your grain bowls; you can really get almost anything here, from desserts, to snacks, to a full-on meal. We put a spin on a lot of things: our acai bowls are not traditional by any means. A lot of things here are winged. If any of my staff says “Hey, I made this cookie,” I’ll say “Great! Is it vegan? Is it gluten free? Is it healthy? Let’s sell it!”
We’re also very selective with the people we choose to work with. We were looking for water for a long time - I was against the idea of bottled water. So I said “find me water” to two of the girls that work here, and they brought me Flow as a sample. Three days later a rep from Flow walked in, and I said “I was going to seek you guys out later this week!”
FW: What inspires your menu items?
SC: A lot of inspiration comes from my cravings. I have a lot of allergies and intolerances, so I’m actually Bolt’s ideal customer. Whatever it is that I’m seeking, I know that 95 per cent of my customers are seeking it too.
FW: How do you define success?
SC: To me, success has nothing to do with money. I’m happy we’re able to pay bills, but for me it’s being able to be part of this community. I came from Vancouver, so I don’t really have a home base in Toronto. This is totally my community now. To me, success is just meeting people and being able to connect the dots with everyone and get everyone to work together and to complement each other and grow with one another. I feel at home here now.
FW: What do you say to someone who’s never tried Bolt?
SC: Don’t be afraid or intimidated! Everything is very simple: you have your vegetables, your proteins, your juices, your smoothies. And ask questions! Be a little bit adventurous and go outside your comfort zone.
FW: How do you find your flow?
SC: It’s very mental for me, but a lot of it has to do with being nourished and hydrated properly. That plays a huge role in my energy and how I project in the workplace. I’ve already had three bottles of flow today. I’m hydrated; I’m good.
A lot of it also has to do with people, how well everything is received, feeling the love from my staff and from the people that come in here. Doing something for the love of it is what energizes me.
FW: What sort of things do you specifically eat, drink and do to #beintheflow?
SC: I’m gluten free and the only animal products I eat are organic chicken, turkey and eggs on occasion – know your farmer! I won't eat anything processed. I don't eat cheese except goat and feta on occasion, again. My carbs are from brown rice and I eat all the veggies and fruits in the world.
I try to eat mindfully and healthy but once in a while I'll cave into french fries or cookies, but only the healthiest versions to keep it guilt free. My sweets are always gluten-free and vegan and with no white sugar, ever. I eat Bolt every day all day with some animal protein here and there.
FW: What advice can you give to someone looking to lead a more healthful lifestyle?
SC: Eat for nutrition and not always for taste. Eat slowly and mindfully and enjoy your food. Chew many times and be present. Give your body time to digest and don't pile too much on your stomach at once. And don't mix and match too many things – keep it simple, enjoy everything in moderation and listen to your body.