Fancy a drink down at the juice cafe?

FIRST IT was coffee houses. Then came sushi bars. Now it is juice cafes. In a bid to cash in on the health craze, a chain of more than 40 juice cafes is being planned over the next three years.

They will sell a range of fruit and vegetable juices devised by Phil Howard, head chef at London's latest ultra-fashionable restaurant, The Square.

Jus Cafe, the company behind the concept, is raising pounds 1.25m through a private placing arranged by Arthur Andersen, and hopes to open five outlets in London within the next 12 months.

Juice cafes have become a familiar sight in the US, Canada and Australia, and Mr Howard believes they can catch on in Britain too. "You are what you eat and people are becoming more aware of that," he says.

"We have advanced the traditional approach to juice blends to a range that suits the modern palate, with combinations of flavours that work."

Other backers of Jus Cafe include the corporate financier james Longley, who will act as chief financial officer, Dermot Verscholye, a former partner in the property group Hamptons International, and another top chef, Adam Byatt. The managing director is Julian Dyer.

If the Jus Cafe concept succeeds, then the plan is to float the business in 18 months' time.