Beneath three rustic chandeliers on a stool top inside Apura Juicery & Coffeehouse sits Brianna Salerno with no makeup on her face – a strange occurrence, she says, considering she’s a makeup artist. In between sips of her Green Juice made with kale, apple, celery, cucumber, spinach and lemon, Salerno notes, “My skin feels so good.” She’s three days into the cold-pressed juice and plant-based cleanse Apura owner Susan Mussaffi designed only months ago.
“[The Signature Green Juice] is the little black dress of my juices,” Mussaffi says about the concoction that first-time and experienced juicers enjoy equally.
While Mussaffi recently developed this cleanse program that lasts anywhere from three to 21 days, her 100-percent vegan location in Boca has been open since fall of 2014. Prior, she owned Fran’s Chicken Haven, a nearly 50-year-old fried chicken joint in Boca Raton – much different than her most recent endeavor.
But even more off track from her vegan eatery was her job before Fran’s as vice president of technology for Morgan Stanley in New York City.
It was when Mussaffi’s husband of 17 years passed away that she realized life was too short to not spend it with her kids doing “normal mom things.” She left Morgan Stanley in 2007; and when she met her new husband, the family moved to Boca Raton.
Once Mussaffi built up her credibility as a restaurant owner at Fran’s and after talking with various dermatologists, nutritionists and chefs, she decided to transition to a completely vegan lifestyle.
“My kids already lost one parent and I just felt this responsibility to be healthy,” she says.
This wasn’t, however, without resistance. Mussaffi says that as she began conditioning her four children for a healthier lifestyle, she found out they were knocking on the neighbors’ doors asking for food and that one of her sons even made a website asking for donations. But now, she says two of her kids have converted to a fully vegan lifestyle – by choice.
Mussaffi is always thinking up ways to turn mainstream foods into vegan options – like her sushi rolls made with tuna-less pâté rolled in avocado with crisp vegetables in a raw nori roll that’s topped with cashew mayo. She even offers a non-acidic cold-brewed coffee and handmade nut “mylks.”
Mussaffi hopes to expand her brand across South Florida, and eventually, everywhere. “I want to see little Apuras around the world,” she says