Director of Operations Megan Conway, left, and General Manager Melissa Caldwell stand at the counter inside Z Vault, a new coffee and smoothie shop at the corner of Main Street and Route 22 in Bel Air. The shop will celebrate its grand opening Saturday.
Director of Operations Megan Conway, left, and General Manager Melissa Caldwell stand at the counter inside Z Vault, a new coffee and smoothie shop at the corner of Main Street and Route 22 in Bel Air. The shop will celebrate its grand opening Saturday. (Erika Butler/The Aegis)

The new combination coffee and smoothie shop ZVault, at the busy intersection of Main Street and Route 22 in Bel Air, will celebrate its grand opening Saturday.

The shop was initially intended to be a cold press juice concept, but Megan Conway, director of operations and Melissa Caldwell, general manager, decided to expand their offerings.

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“We decided to move into other specialty beverages not traditionally available in this area,” Caldwell said.

Conway travels often to Santa Monica, where she operates To Wag For, a dog grooming boutique that also has a branch in Bel Air.

“It’s a very LA concept,” Conway said. “I thought, ‘Why not bring the best two things together in one place for Bel Air?’”

They are trying to create a “judgment free” atmosphere at ZVault.

“This is a safe spot for anyone to come,” said Conway, who said she has family members who are LGBT. “It’s something safe, a place you can be yourself.”

The interior decor is “very LA, Japanese, minimalist but inspirational,” Caldwell said.

The outside of the former Bank of America branch is intended to look like a vault, Caldwell said. They tried to get away from the 1990s brick front look.

The bank’s vault is still inside and is used as for cold storage.

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Conway, a 1996 Fallston High graduate who lives in Joppa, and Caldwell, who lives in Pylesville, have worked together at various places for about 15 years.

“She was looking for someone to manage the operations and I was looking for a change,” Caldwell said.

Products at ZVault include fresh coffee, crafted espresso, smoothies and fresh juices. They also have sandwiches, wraps and salads.

None of the coffee is pre-ground or pre-packaged and is the freshest available, Conway said. It comes from Cafe Lutz in California. The beans are picked from various locations throughout the year based on the best climate is for growing.

“They get the best coffee beans in season at the time,” Caldwell said. “It’s very, very fresh coffee, a much better product from what people are used to in this area.”

A small, regular coffee is $2, a large is $2.50

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Caldwell and Conway developed every recipe themselves for their juices and smoothies, and all of them are made without any artificial sugars or juice concentrates.

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They’re all made with frozen fruit and only a dash of syrup is added for flavor, Caldwell said.

“There are a lot of places you can get a smoothie, but a lot of places you get a smoothie with as much sugar as a Coke,” Caldwell said.

They also make their own juices, most of which are aimed at customers who are juicing — an increasingly popular health movement, Caldwell said.

The juices are meant to be meal replacements with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals a person needs while cleansing.

ZVault serves five juices, made with all natural, fresh ingredients, like the smoothies, Caldwell said.

Zima upstairs

The second floor will be occupied by Zima, offering cryotherapy — cold therapy baths — beginning in February.

Clients can get inside a capsule, similar to a tanning bed, with only their head exposed, for three minutes and temperatures will get down to 150 degrees below zero.

“The technology was developed 40 years ago in Japan for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis,” Conway said. “It’s an anti-inflammatory, a form of physical therapy but you don’t need a doctor’s recommendation.”

Caldwell likened it to athletes taking an ice bath.

“This is much quicker and much less painful,” she said.

“It’s going to be pretty cool,” Conway added.

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