Former Carolina Panther and current NFL player Everette Brown opened the first Tropical Smoothie Café in Charlotte, North Carolina, in late November, marking the beginning of the food and smoothie franchise’s aggressive expansion plans to develop 15 locations in the Charlotte area within the coming years.
Brown, who was drafted by the Panthers in 2009 and now plays for the Dallas Cowboys, opened the city’s initial Tropical Smoothie Café in midtown Charlotte in the Metropolitan retail center on November 25. The North Carolina native was introduced to the brand while playing football at Florida State University and quickly became a regular customer, saying the healthier menu items supported his athletic lifestyle.
“As an athlete, I understand the importance of eating healthy, which is why I’ve been a big fan of Tropical Smoothie Café since my college ball days,” Brown says. “I’m excited to share the healthier food and delicious smoothies with the active community in Charlotte. My fiancé and I have made Charlotte our home base, and of course I lived here while playing for the Panthers, so opening this restaurant was extra special for me.”
The entrance into Charlotte is part of the 357-unit brand’s overall growth strategy to open 53 additional locations throughout the U.S. in 2014. The company is seeking local franchise partners to develop up to 15 locations throughout the greater Charlotte area. Tropical Smoothie Café decided to focus on Charlotte as a key growth market in response to increasing local demand for healthier food options as well as the strong performance of nearby locations in South Carolina.
“Tropical Smoothie Café wants to partner with franchisees who believe in our ‘eat better, feel better’ mantra and who better matches that profile than Everette Brown, an active NFL player?” says Mike Rotondo, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café. “We are confident that consumers in Charlotte will enjoy our better-for-you options, and we look forward to growing our brand presence in here in the years to come.”
The brand positioning of its “healthy food with a tropical twist” has catapulted Tropical Smoothie Café to the forefront of the quick-serve segment. By pairing made-to-order smoothies with healthy menu items, Tropical Smoothie Café appeals to a broad consumer base during all dayparts. With system-wide revenue approximately split between smoothie and food purchases, the two-in-one business model has led to strong sales with average unit volumes in excess of $500,000.