Run by triplet sisters Jessica, Jill and Jennifer Emich, Shine Restaurant & Potion Bar specializes in serving organic and gluten-free food from its outpost at 2480 Canyon Boulevard and makes its own herbal tonics, potions, which it serves on tap.
The three long-time Boulder restaurateurs (they started their first Boulder restaurant over two decades ago) come from a tight-knit family and a large, tight extended family (their mom is one of 12 in a big Italian family). “We just took it to a whole extreme!” Jessica laughs.
Like every restaurant, Covid-19 hit the business hard. It shuttered for four days in late March and then the family came together and got to work. Jessica’s two children, ages seven and 10, helped run the potion bar and do to-go orders and each night everyone would have family dinner at the community table.
The Shine sisters have also begun exploring other revenue streams by canning their curated “potions,” mixes of juices, herbs and energetics, designed to strengthen the immune system and dissolve stress.
Shine’s herbal blends include combinations like Butterfly Pea Flower, Juniper Berry Ashwaganda, Lavender, Eye Bright, Lemon Balm, Rose Hips, Gingko Bilboa, Vanilla, Apple and a touch of Stevia (like the Awakening potion blend.) We don’t know how the magic works, but we can attest that the potions leave you feeling calm, centered and good.
“The potions are an invitation to tap into the magic within,” Jill tells BLDRfly, “an opportunity to check in, see how you’re feeling. Maybe you want the Fairy Bubbles to uplift and replenish, or the Owl Eyes for clarity and focus.”
In addition to their potions going into cans for distribution, they also plan to start selling 12 to 15 of their most popular products for takeaway. These bottled products will include sauces, dressings, yam butter, beet hummus, cultures and ferments, bone broth and their raw cookie dough.
Shine sources its meat locally from Bucker’s Family Farm and its produce from Dharma’s Garden, but perhaps its most popular product, the Shine Potions, the sisters make in-house. These herbal beverages, brewed like a tea then ritually overlaid with energetics such as gem and flower essences and sound frequencies, use herbs which help relieve stress and support the immune system.
Each potion, designed for a specific purpose and function, correlates to specific chakras, energy points in the body connected to various organs and glands that some ancient religions say carry life energy. For example, its Awakening potion focuses on the third-eye chakra, located in the center of the forehead and said to activate an individual’s wisdom and higher consciousness.
They brew the potions at the restaurant, and make the sound frequencies separately, which they later add in. The sisters make the frequencies by playing specific sounds to tinctures made of rose quartz essence. The frequencies range from crackling fire to morning birds and baby laughter; they pair each one with herbal blends and create the tinctures for potions over specific moons they feel connected to.
You may remember seeing these potions in glass bottles a couple years ago, when the sisters first had them in distribution in local grocery and liquor stores and on Amazon. However, when the operation felt like it started to get too far removed — too many middle men — and the business began to lose money, they pulled back to regroup.
With a rebrand, the sisters just launched their new distribution model on October 27. The cans will also have a QR (or Quick Response) code through which customers can use their cell phones to hear the sounds frequencies that went into each potion. Shine plans to have the cans available first on-site only and then expand distribution, first marketing its Awakening, Fairy Bubbles, and Owl Eyes potions.
The community-focused hub thrives as family; the sisters have owned restaurants in Boulder for 22 years, opening their first, Trilogy, four months after moving to Boulder in 2000. From New Jersey, the three went to University in Nevada and then Jessica and Jill studied at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.
Working together with family as closely as Jessica, Jill and Jennifer do every day comes with its own set of challenges, especially in an industry where you can’t hide from each other, but the restaurant also provides a backdrop to work out their dynamics.
They each have separate positions and areas of expertise. Jessica heads up the culinary division and menu development as the executive chef, Jill focuses on potions and community relations and Jennifer manages front of house operations.
They opened Trilogy Wine Bar & Lounge at age 24 and it quickly became a Boulder icon. “I don’t say that lightly,” Jill says. “We had live music all the time, and arts and culture. I feel like it was this time in Boulder when this huge shift was happening, and Trilogy became a mecca for artists and musicians.” This went on from 2000 to 2009, when the sisters sold the restaurant.
The shift from owning the seven-day-a-week, open-till-2-a.m. restaurant came as a progression of their career timelines; after nearly a decade, they felt burnt out and ready for a different phase of life. Shine, which they launched two years after closing Trilogy, became the next backdrop for their work and growth together, and the next community staple.
Shine moved to its Canyon Boulevard spot from downtown three years ago, which added a lovely back patio with a fireplace, “fairy” herb garden and view of the Flatirons to its community hub — not to mention, much-coveted parking space. (Not downtown Boulder’s strong suit when you have 45 employees.)