Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a leading fast casual cafe concept known for its better-for-you food and smoothies with a tropical twist, announced it has signed multi-unit franchise agreements with several foodservice and franchising industry veterans, each of whom bring decades of experience to the company’s franchise network. This accelerated franchise development coupled with the company’s ongoing success has propelled the award-winning food and smoothie franchise to new heights as it continues to outpace the competition and report positive growth despite the industry-wide declining sales trend, closing out the first quarter of 2017 with positive comp sales of 4 percent.
“With 2017 marking Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s 20th anniversary, we’re grateful that the investments we’ve made in our products, people and processes over the past two decades have translated into compounding success. The influx of experienced multi-unit operators joining our franchise network is a true testament to the strength of our business model, and we’re thrilled to welcome each of them to the team,” says Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe. “Our franchisees have played an integral role in the substantial growth Tropical Smoothie Cafe has experienced over the last several years. We’ve never strayed from our commitment to supporting each and every franchisee in our network, which has helped fuel growth from within, with more than half of the 160 franchise agreements signed last year coming from existing franchisees.”
Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s newest experienced multi-unit operators include:
Mike Shattuck, who brings more than 40 years experience in the food service industry, previously served as the vice president of international for Cinnabon and president international for FOCUS Brands. Shattuck currently has six cafes in development throughout the greater Atlanta metro area and will be leveraging his experience running international franchised operations as a key contributor to the success of his cafes.
A trailblazer in the franchising and foodservice industries, Emily 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.
Bill Ruby and Greg Powell each bring more than two decades of experience to Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The partners most recently worked together for Denny’s Corporation, where Ruby led marketing efforts as vice president of field marketing and later became vice president of company operations, and Powell spearheaded branded concepts as vice president of concept innovation and development. The partners will be opening six new cafes throughout South Carolina’s Upstate region.
Steve Milam, a multi-unit operator of four Wingstop locations, joined Tropical Smoothie cafe in Spring 2016. Milam currently owns and operates three Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants in Frisco, Texas, with plans to expand throughout his territory over the next several years.
Carlos Varella, along with his three brothers, joined Tropical Smoothie Cafe and currently operates two locations in Texas, both of which opened in January 2017. The brothers have committed to opening four additional locations in Texas, and are actively seeking sites in Harlingen, McAllen and Laredo. They bring extensive experience in the food service and franchising industries, and also own Russo’s New York Pizzeria and VENTURE X franchises.
“Each of our new franchisees bring a wealth of knowledge and decades of industry experience to the table, and we have no doubt they’ll be valuable partners as they spearhead Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s growth in their respective communities,” added Rotondo.
To further fuel development, Tropical Smoothie Cafe will be exhibiting at the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference April 23—26 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Entrepreneurs looking to become a franchise owner are invited to meet with the brand’s franchise development team at booth #431 to learn more about growth opportunities across the country.
This year, the food and smoothie franchise plans to open over 100 restaurants nationwide and currently has franchise opportunities across the U.S. in markets such as Indianapolis, Nashville, Houston, Dallas, Cincinnati and Minneapolis, among others. By 2020, Tropical Smoothie Cafe plans to have 1,000 stores 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 $220,770 and $525,400. The better-for-you food franchise currently boasts an average unit volume (AUV) of more than $662,000—the highest in the company’s 20-year history—with the top 50 percent reporting an AUV of more than $846,000.
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.