Red Mango is readying for its first winter with the newly launched café prototype that may bring the brand more traffic despite the colder weather.

“We follow industry averages in terms of how our stores see anywhere from 25–50 percent less visits in the winter compared to the summer in the peak like July or August,” says founder Dan Kim. “We’ve known from the beginning before we opened our first store that seasonality is an issue in the category.”

For a while, the frozen-yogurt chain was able to combat declining winter sales with a smoothie platform and a hot chocolate test, Kim says. Those programs showed corporate their stores were capable of menu expansion and guests were willing to see it happen. With this year’s openings of Red Mango Yogurt Café and Juice Bars in Austin, Chicago, and New York, the brand will see just how much of an impact its new salads, wraps, sandwiches, and fresh-squeezed juices can make.

Kim says the cold-pressed juice platform was an easy expansion for Red Mango, as the brand already works closely with fruit and vegetable suppliers for its frozen yogurt. The juice menu features kale, kiwi, carrots, apples, oranges, beets, ginger, pineapple, and more, with prices ranging from $2.95 to $5.95, and single Power Shots for $1.95. The wide array of produce largely informed the brand’s development of the Café Bites menu, Kim says.

“We were able to do a lot with our juice and smoothie program, and with that came additional support and competency with working with fruits and vegetable as a key platform in a lot of things we do,” he says. “We’ll be doing a kale vegetarian soup, which ties in our juice platform that has a kale-based beverage. Apple-squash soup is another one we’ll be offering this winter.”

In addition to hot soups, which are priced at $4.49 for a small cup and $5.99 for a large, the Café Bites menu features warm flatbreads like the Mango Thai Chicken, salads like the Strawberry Fields, and artisan wraps like the Chicken Apple Pesto. All menu items are under 500 calories and range in price from $3.95 to $5.45.

To ready the café prototype to face its first winter, Red Mango turned to its loyal fan base through its Club Mango rewards program, Kim says. “There are guests of ours who are open to brand innovation, and the first thing we do is reach out to those customers,” he says. “That’s been great research for us because they’re loyal; they come more; they spend more. That’s been the most effective way of getting the word out, and we’ll continue doing that.”

The brand will also ramp up in-store marketing to familiarize its guests with the new menu expansion, Kim adds. 

By Tamara Omazic

Beverage, Desserts, Fast Casual, Growth, Menu Innovations, News, Red Mango