It’s true: London’s first nice cream bar has arrived in Shoreditch, proving that wholesome decadence is not only possible, but it’s bloody delicious. This dairy-free ‘ice cream’ is from a base of frozen bananas, along with plant-based ingredients and toppings that change daily – think Rocky Road, Pina Colada and Strawberry Shortcake.
We’ve sat down with Justin, the brains behind, the brand to find out more. He’s an inspiring and philosophical visionary with a brilliant story, and we want to share it with you all.
A: I feel like I have a responsibility to nourish and energise others.
Going back to the beginning, when I was eight I was diagnosed with type one diabetes, and I’ve gone through stages where I abused my body and didn’t take care of it. I worked in recruitment and earned a lot of money, but I didn’t help anyone. When I made physical changes – eating more whole-foods and exercising regularly – I didn’t just see physical benefits, but my overall attitude was more positive.
I left the UK at the end of 2015 and headed to South America where I spent a lot of time with people who had nothing, but seemed happier than people I knew that had everything. I started to question that and realised that the key was having something that brought people together – an idea or a belief – and essentially, a brand. I also realised that energy is not just physical; it’s mental, spiritual and social. And the social aspect is so important: we’re social animals. You know, bees are good at pollinating flowers, and we’re good at building tribes. I love connecting and bringing people together, and building a brand is a way to do that.
A: NANABAR is an expression of my mission to nourish and energise others.
I knew I wanted to launch a brand, and I looked at what I was passionate about. I love food and flavour… flavour that comes from the whole ingredient itself, with all the nutrients in the right amounts. It’s about making wholefood sexy and exciting.
I started experimenting with nice cream, and loved that it was a base that could carry all kinds of indulgent, rebellious flavours that are still nourishing. The rebellious aspect of the brand is really important as we’re all about challenging the status quo: why the fuck should healthy food be boring, or, why do people perceive it as boring?
And what makes the nice cream isn’t just the banana, or the toppings, or the name. It’s about everything coming together and being greater than the sum of its parts.
A: We wanted to create a space for people to enjoy, belong and connect, away from the noise and pressure of life and society. There’s tiered seating, lots of open space, plants, and brick. We purposefully made the counter low so that there’s no separation between us and our guests (we don’t use the word customer, everyone’s a guest, and we only take card as we wanted to remove the transactional element as much as possible). It’s really about a having a space for anyone who wants to come and enjoy it, and even use it for events.
A: NANABAR is an experiment and a statement about wholefoods: we want people to give a shit about what they’re putting in their body. It will be shaped by our guests, not us, and we’ve got to be open and willing to change. We’re now looking at getting into shops and cafes so people can pop out and get some (think Netflix and NANABAR). I think everyone should experiment a bit more and we should use fear to energise us – not suffocate us.
A: Yes it is a vegan product, but we don’t want it to be exclusive. Our mission is to make wholefood sexy and educate people about plant-based wholefoods – it’s for everyone.
Opening times: 9am – 9pm
Location: 45 Charlotte Road EC2A 3PD (opposite Veggie Pret in Shoreditch, near Old Street)
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