Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a leading fast casual cafe concept known for its better-for-you food and smoothies with a tropical twist, announced today Emily Harrington has signed franchise agreements to expand the brand’s presence in Tampa, Florida. A trailblazer in the franchising and foodservice industries, Harrington has immense experience as a multi-unit operator of successful franchises, having previously owned 42 Hardee’s restaurants prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
As part of her franchise agreement with the brand, Harrington purchased two existing cafes in Tampa and will be opening an additional four new locations throughout the area over the next several years, with an ultimate goal to own at least 50 Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants. Prior to making her mark in franchising, Harrington served in the U.S. Army for five years as a Signal Corps officer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering management from the United States Military Academy and an MBA from Cameron University, which she earned while stationed in Germany during her active duty.
“As a single mother and business owner, I know all too well how difficult it can be to eat healthy while on the go, and after my time with Hardee’s, I was determined to join a foodservice brand that focuses on making nutritious and delicious food convenient for today’s modern consumer. As a brand that is committed to doing just that and is consistently named as one of the top franchise opportunities for veterans, Tropical Smoothie Cafe was the obvious choice for me,” says Harrington. “From its unique, better-for-you products to its exceptional business model with a proven track record of success, this brand is a standout in the foodservice industry and offers immense potential for franchisees. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe family and to be coming onboard at a time where the company is positioned for immense growth.”
This new agreement and Florida expansion is fueled by Tropical Smoothie Cafe's accelerated franchise development plans. On the heels of one of the strongest years in the company’s 19-year history, the award-winning brand successfully propelled its expansion throughout 2016 and grew its presence in key markets nationwide, including Charleston, South Carolina; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Dallas, Texas; and Southern California.
“Over the past several years, we’ve built a strong brand that’s grabbing the attention of multi-unit operators that are adapting their restaurant portfolio to better meet the preferences of consumers today and leaving fast food concepts in search of an opportunity that offers healthier options,” says Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe. “Having such an experienced and knowledgeable industry veteran join our franchise network is truly a testament to the fact that Tropical Smoothie Cafe is one of the most attractive investment opportunities in the industry. As we head toward the end of 2016, we look forward to closing the year out on a high note and positioning our brand for success in 2017 and beyond.”
This year, the food and smoothie franchise plans to exceed 550 restaurants nationwide. The brand currently has franchise opportunities across the U.S. in markets such as Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta and Columbus, among others. By 2018, Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans to have 800 units open across the U.S.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe is looking to add qualified franchisees to its growing brand. Candidates should have business experience; $125,000 in liquid assets and a minimum net worth of $350,000; and an initial investment of between $198,050 and $478,550. The healthier fast food franchise currently boasts an average unit volume (AUV) of more than $634,000—the highest in the company's 19-year history—with the top 50 percent reporting an AUV of more than $806,000.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s aggressive franchise growth is backed by the entrepreneurs at the BIP Franchise Accelerator, a division of venture capital firm BIP Capital, which invested in the brand in 2010. BIP Capital has invested more than $250 million in emerging, high-growth brands across the franchising, software, and technology and consumer products industries. BIP Capital created the BIP Franchise Accelerator to leverage its leadership team's deep franchise experience to help emerging brands accelerate their growth. In addition to Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the BIP Franchise Accelerator’s portfolio includes Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, which has grown to 11 locations in Georgia.
“When we invested in Tropical Smoothie Cafe four years ago, the company had 200 franchised locations and was growing at a slow pace of only 20 per year,” says Tom Wells, vice president of BIP Franchise Accelerator. “Today, Tropical Smoothie Cafe is opening an average of one cafe a week and last year signed nearly 200 franchise agreements. Our partnership has brought not only the needed capital to grow the brand, but also the proven strategies for accelerating a franchise system’s growth.”