Since 2004, Yelp has worked to connect millions of people to the best in local business. In that time we’ve met thousands of passionate small business owners, a group as hardworking and diverse as any you’ll find. In this series, we share stories of just some of the people who, through their commitment to building great local businesses, are sustaining the vibrant local communities we call home.
Eliah Thomas-Stephenson was born to have her own business.
Her father was a businessman, who moved their family from Syria to Columbus, Ohio, in the 1950’s. At the time, the community was thriving with new businesses and diverse people.
And it was right here in Columbus that Eliah witnessed the ups and down of being an entrepreneur. In her family, it was a normal way of life. Everyone worked for themselves. She loved the idea of having the freedom to do something that she was passionate about, and she knew she could make it work.
“I think the risk is no greater than any other risk.”
After her parents had passed away, Eliah’s first go at business ownership was on an organic farm 25 miles west of Columbus. On top of having the farm, she hosted a bed and breakfast and wellness retreats, and she fell in love with plant-based living. She fed her guests the food they grew on the farm, and over time her lifelong passion was coming together before her eyes.
She then decided to sell the farm and move back to the city to bring juice and plant-based eating to a larger audience. It was Eliah’s goal to make this lifestyle accessible to everyone.
& Juice Co. was born.
“I want to be in communities and I want to build spaces where people could come and really be there.”
& Juice Co. is proud to be the first minority-owned juice company in Columbus, and after two successful years of owning one location, Eliah and her team stepped outside of their “safety zone” and built two new locations in 2018.
Eliah admits that building those new locations came with difficulties. In the middle of building the Clintonville location, for example, she thought they were in over their heads.
“I had never built out restaurant build outs… there was just so much.”
Thanks to the amazing restaurant community in the city, though, Eliah didn’t feel alone, she said. She was assured that getting behind schedule and experiencing hiccups were normal.
They would get through it, and they did. Not only are they now offering delicious fresh pressed juice in three neighborhoods, but they’re also introducing a new vegan menu.
It has now been a couple months with all three stores running smoothly, and Eliah said she finally “feels legit.” Eliah and her chief operating officer and partner in life, Tara Stephenson, are proud of the diverse community they are building.
“We are black, Middle-eastern, thin, heavy, all of things, but we’re healthy, and we’re well,” Eliah said. “And we’re talking to people about it.”