A grab-and-go smoothie turns into a sit down meal when it’s served in a bowl — and people love how they feel after a healthy meal.
That’s what Robeks Premium Fruit Smoothies, a national smoothie franchise based in Los Angeles, discovered last year, when one of its franchise owners developed a solution to an issue common to smoothie sellers: how to position smoothies as nutritious meals in addition to on-the-go drinks.
Dennis Sato, a Robeks franchisee in San Diego, experimented with hard pack yogurt, fruit, and juices to invent a smoothie thick enough to eat with a spoon, then began offering it in bowls topped with fresh fruit and granola.
Sato’s experiment was a huge hit. His sales jumped, and Robeks began offering Smoothie Bowls throughout the system.
Within a few months, Smoothie Bowl sales made up 10 percent of the national chain’s total revenue and the company expects the percentage to grow substantially in 2012.
"Sitting down to eat a smoothie bowl is a completely different experience than a smoothie in a cup," says Mary Catherine Rebrovick, a Nashville health blogger.
"A smoothie bowl feels more like a meal — which it is. Mealtime is a ritual for a lot of people and sitting down at a table with friends is part of the meal. Psychologically, a lot of people don't feel like a smoothie drink is the same — even if it's nutritionally identical. It is easy to see why Smoothie Bowls have so much appeal."
"When Dennis came to us with this idea, we thought it was interesting, but we didn't realize just how many people would embrace the chance to sit down with a Smoothie Bowl," says Robeks President and CEO Steve Davidson.
"It's been wonderful for the business, and it's exciting to see so many new customers coming in because of the bowls."
For years, Robeks has touted the nutritional advantages of using real fruit smoothies to replace a meal: Smoothies are healthy, all-natural and typically have far fewer calories than a fast food meal. Robeks is the first smoothie chain to offer Smoothie Bowls.
Smoothie Bowls are particularly popular during lunchtime, as customers seek a healthy alternative to fast food. The Awesome Açaí Smoothie Bowl, topped with granola and fresh fruit, has been the most popular.
Smoothie Bowls are now available at Robeks stores nationwide. Los Angeles-based Robeks is a growing franchise system with 120 stores in 16 states and Washington, D.C.