Getting Juiced With Ron Shapiro at Main Squeeze

Oxford mainstay, Ronald “Ronzo” Shapiro is on his laptop with several of the nation’s newspapers within arm’s reach when I find him at Main Squeeze, his latest foray into the “restaurant, etcetera” business. shapiro-computerIt was the third time I had dropped by to chat with him; the previous times took place in December where I was met with Post-it Notes on the door declaring him absent for the time being.

Shapiro’s unavailability on the first two attempts was not altogether unexpected. It was, after all, late December and the college students had headed back home cutting the town’s population almost in half. And Shapiro was the owner of the fabled Hoka – part coffee house, part theatre, part restaurant, part music venue – that welcomed customers with a sign reading “Sorry, we’re Open.”

Main Squeeze, Shapiro explains, was set up to be run by just one person. He liked the idea of being able to hang a sign on the door that says, “Gone Fishin’.” Today, he needed to do laundry and was preparing to make a note to alert potential customers that he’d be back shortly.

But on this morning I found him. He was dressed comfortably in tennis shoes, faded blue jeans, an untucked corduroy shirt and a necklace of 109 Tibetan prayer beads made of yak bone I’d seen him wear on numerous occasions. He offers me coffee – French pressed – to which I add tablespoon of Turbinado raw sugar and some half and half.

ron-shapiroHe does not look sixty-five. His appearance belies a lifetime of experiences. Thirty years growing up in St. Louis. Working with top secret clearance for a General as a clerk-typist in Korea during the Vietnam War. Actor. Documentary subject. Business owner (mostly theatres) from Wyoming to Montana to Idaho and then to Oxford in 1975. Leaving Oxford in 1996, for stints in places like Atlanta, Mexico and San Francisco before heading back to “The Little Easy.” Now he is often hired by his longtime friend and Oxford Mayor, Richard Howorth, as a guide or chaperone for some of the authors brought into town by Square Books. In this role, he picks them up in Memphis and shows them around Oxford, Jackson or noteworthy locales in the Delta.

A onetime mayoral and congressional candidate, Shapiro maintains an interest in politics. While he praises his friend, Howorth as mayor, Shapiro in some ways does not like what the city has become.

“Everything is done for the wealthy. It should be illegal,” he says.

Shapiro bemoans that the existence of numerous restaurants making Oxford such a desirable place to live also contributes to higher cost of living making it more expensive for thousands of employees.

As Oxford is gearing up for its own local elections, Shapiro is considering running for political office as mayor or alderman but faces a moral dilemma: he likes some of the candidates and does not want to run against them. Because of this, Shapiro has not ruled out moving to a district in Oxford where he would not challenge his friends.

main-squeeze-oxford-msBut for now, Shapiro’s focus is on Main Squeeze, his juice and smoothie bar tucked behind Pizza Hut and Orion’s Gym on University in a small structure that used to house a barber shop. “One of the last cool places in Oxford,” he says.

Shapiro has just added the French pressed coffee and bagels to the ever-expanding menu that began with a variety of fruit smoothies with the names of Sunrise, Sunset or Boogaloo Berry and shots of wheat grass under the heading “Whoop Ass.”

“People are addicted to wheatgrass,” he says. And for good reason. “It is known as a hangover cure. It has the highest source of chlorophyll and takes affect in ten minutes. One shot has a day’s serving of vegetables. The rush is Amazing!”

People credit Shapiro for being creative, and original for being the first to sell things as bagels, premium coffee or wheatgrass in Oxford. But he considers himself the “Milton Berle of Food. “I just steal things,” he admits. Having travelled the world, Shapiro brings back things he thinks his customers might like.

shapiro-wheatgrassAnd the idea for juicing? Stolen from Jack LaLanne’s infomercials. “He’s one hundred,” Shapiro laughs. If juicing can work for LaLanne, it can work for him.

He also appreciates his customers who know about juicing and is learning from them. Like an alchemist, he is always adding or trying new ingredients in both the smoothies and wheatgrass shots.

Shapiro’s pocket book and interest in eating healthier will lead him to eventually adding more items to the Main Squeeze menu. Bringing a restaurant kitchen up to code can be expensive. Installing hood above the cooking area could cost $10,000. To avoid that cost, he’d like to grill fish, free range chicken, brisket outside and have them available as entrees or as topping on fresh salads.

He also has an eye towards expanding his business hours to be open later since many kitchens in Oxford close around 10 PM. “Drives me nuts,” he says. He’d like to be open as late as 2AM, maybe even longer. “Food always tastes better at 2AM. I’m up. I might as well be open.” Shapiro would like to see the day where he can be open 24 hours a day from Thursday through Sunday.

It’s been said that by looking at the past you can predict the future. By looking at Shapiro’s past, you know that his future will include movies. He’s been trying to mix Oxford’s hot nights with cool movies, inviting folks to bring lawn chairs to Main Squeeze for outdoor viewings of classic films like “Being There” and “The Harder They Come.” “I try to choose films that will keep peoples’ attention.”

Like the menu at Main Squeeze, Shapiro would like to expand the number of movie nights in order to include documentaries. Shapiro would like to start showing movies again “this spring or sooner.” With temperatures in the mid-sixties today, Shapiro added, “Tonight would be a great night for a movie.”


[UPDATED] Menu’s below:

click for expanded view



Main Squeeze
1504 University Avenue
(662) 513-0707
(next door to Pizza Hut and Orion Gym)

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  1. Good article on Ronzo!

  2. LOVE IT!
    Thanks for this great article. I’m headed over there now to try my first Wheat Grass shot!

  3. loved hangin out at the Hoka when I was going to school in Oxford…Ron definitely knows how to make a sandwich…gotta get up there and check out the smoothie with a movie


  1. COOP reports from the 2010 OXFORD (MISSISSIPPI) FILM FESTIVAL | The Small Town Critic - [...] guru, Ron Shapiro. Shapiro, who also presented the awards, was very hospitable when I showed up at his juice/coffee ...

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