This week’s featured duo for Daytonian of the Week are Elizabeth and David Furst.
You were first introduced to this couple with the announcement of the opening of their Santa Clara Juicery, which goes far beyond creating and delivering tasty drinks.
We spoke with the Fursts about life in Dayton, what inspired their return to the Gem City, and how they hope to make an impact on a place that’s so close to their hearts.
Tell us a little about your life growing up in Dayton, and what brought you back to the city?
Elizabeth grew up in Dayton and worked at the family business, Evans Electric Company positioned in the Santa Clara district. Attended Dayton Christian School previously located in the Five Oaks area. Ran cross country for school and trained along the riverscape every day.
David grew up in Minneapolis, Minn., but in 2004 met Elizabeth in Ohio while touring with his band. David and Elizabeth married in 2006 and relocated to Minneapolis. Since then, the couple has lived in several different states for work including Birmingham, Ala. and most recently Atlanta, Ga.
After 12 years, David and Elizabeth returned to Dayton to purchase Evans Electric Company and continue the family business in Santa Clara.
Having opened the Santa Clara juicery officially, what does it feel like to own and operate a business in your hometown?
Opening a juice bar right next to my family’s business is nostalgic. I loved Santa Clara during the art district days. We would walk to have lunch at the Upper Crust or Evans Café every day in the summer. The art galleries and vintage shops would open up their spaces and hold art walks every now and then in the evening. Martin Sheen’s star is even on the sidewalk in Santa Clara. It was a cool time for the area.
Today, the area does not resemble the arts scene. There is not one café or art gallery. We are hoping to change that. We are hoping to provide a community hangout, a place that provides hope, health and employment to an area that is in great need of new life.
How has Dayton shaped your life and your business?
We see Dayton from two different perspectives — David comes to Dayton with fresh eyes and Elizabeth remembers what Dayton was and what it can be again. We both see Dayton as a place full of opportunity! Dayton has a food desert, so its residents need more options for healthy food close to where they live. We hope to provide that with opening of the juicery and more businesses like a café or organic eatery in the Santa Clara community.
What inspired you to become an advocate for food desserts in the area?
Our juicing friends at the Downtown YMCA and Second Chance Ministries, Pastor Jimmy and Shari Mann revealed a real-life story of what food deserts really look like in Dayton. “The only grocery store on the west side of Dayton is an IGA where fresh produce is often unavailable or if it is, the produce is not fresh or even edible.” Pastor Mann asked about a banana one day and the store worker said they have not had bananas in awhile. This story broke our hearts. We are big juicers because we know the food we put in is vital to the prevention of disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer!
What is it about Dayton that interested you both in staying here permanently?
We moved back to Dayton to be near family now that we’ve started our own. We are continuing the family business and excited about bringing new life to a community where the family has been for over 25 years! Dayton is full of opportunity to grow a new business and create new jobs!
If you could change/improve one thing about Dayton, what would that be?
More city involvement in revitalizing the communities around downtown.
Share a memory with us!
Our business held the first neighborhood-wide cleanup day in Santa Clara in years. This was a great day with a lot of resident and business involvement that also included around 16 police officers and a food bank setup with items donated by Fresh Market.
What do you find most inspiring about Dayton?
We are starting to see more community gardens popping up near the Santa Clara area. This is inspiring because many children in the area have grown up not ever tasting fresh produce.
We are also meeting many real-estate investors and general contractors who are purchasing vacant, boarded-up properties in the neighborhood and converting them into excellent and affordable living spaces. This means Dayton can make a comeback!
What’s your favorite thing to do in Dayton? Favorite place to eat? Favorite shop?
We love the Air Force museum, Boonshoft museum and Dayton Dragons games, especially with our kids.
We love Warped Wing, Toxic Brew, Crafted and Cured, Wheat Penny, Thai 9 and the Butter Café.
What do you see for the future of the Gem City in the coming 5 years?
We hope to see new life in the communities surrounding downtown, especially the Santa Clara area! In five years, we hope to see new businesses, eateries, shops opened along North Main Street. More people biking in an area that is safer and maintained by the community’s residents as well as more involvement from the city of Dayton.