GREENFIELD – When Merissa Houston and her colleagues were preparing to open a real estate office in town, they knew they wanted it to be different.
“We didn’t want the community to be intimidated or scared to come in and talk real estate,” the Keller Williams Realty agent said. “Because real estate offices can be kind of closed off. You don’t go unless you really need to, right? So we were trying to figure out how to make it just a warm, friendly, inviting environment for the community to come and be a part of it.”
As they brainstormed, they eventually came to the conclusion: What’s more inviting than a smoothie and juice bar?
So Houston approached a New Palestine High School alumna who owns Parched on Indianapolis’ east side, and invited her to start a second location in Greenfield.
The businesses are located on the main floor of the historical H.B. Thayer building at 13 N. State St. downtown. Thanks to the city’s inclusion in the state’s Stellar Communities Program, the property’s facade was recently transformed to look closer to how it did when it was first built in 1895. Large storefront windows have replaced the mass of white-painted brick that formerly stretched partway down the block.
Parched is already blending for customers while Keller Williams Realty plans to open next month.
Houston, formerly based at her employer’s Greenwood office, was surprised to learn that a real estate firm with a national presence as wide as Keller Williams didn’t have a location in fast-growing Hancock County. After pitching her superiors on Greenfield, they quickly gave their support.
The office area beyond the juice and smoothie bar includes a conference room for closings as well as space for a title company, lender and Keller Williams agents. Houston’s husband, a contractor, built the bar but didn’t have to do much to prepare the existing office space.
Keller Williams plans to have a grand opening for the office on Nov. 5 with a festival in the parking lot featuring food trucks and vendors.
After Houston and her colleagues came up with the idea for a juice bar, they did some research and discovered Parched at 9922 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis. Houston visited the location, met owner Tanya Khokhar and talked to her about subleasing the front of the H.B. Thayer building’s main floor.
Khokhar, also a math teacher at Warren Central High School, said she was already thinking about opening a second Parched location when approached about the opportunity in Greenfield.
Parched offers smoothies and smoothie bowls featuring a variety of ingredients, including fruits, dark chocolate, honey and peanut butter. The business uses glass jars for its smoothies that customers can return, and when they give back 10, they get a free smoothie.
After graduating from New Palestine High School in 2012, Khokhar studied economics at the University of Notre Dame and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked in consulting.
Then she moved back to central Indiana and got her teaching license. She was teaching online during the COVID-19 pandemic when she grew restless for something more.
“The east side, it used to be so happening with the mall and everything,” Khokhar said.
She wanted to rekindle some of that, and had always wanted to start a business. She didn’t know exactly what she wanted to sell at first, but knew what she wanted it to feel like.
“The thought of something new, and fun and a good vibe,” she said.
A lack of juice and smoothie bars in the area as well as her exposure to the abundance of them in L.A. helped settle her decision.
Parched in Greenfield is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Khokhar welcomes feedback and suggestions from customers, who can interact with the business online via Facebook and @i_am_parched on Instagram.