Tropical Smoothie Cafe, known for its healthy food with a tropical twist, announced plans to grow in the Jacksonville, Florida, metro area. The rapidly growing food and smoothie franchise has nine locations open throughout Jacksonville, and company plans call for three more cafes to be developed over the next 12 months.

Target areas for expansion include Orange Park and North Jacksonville.

The development in the Jacksonville area is part of the 345-unit brand's overall growth strategy to open 40 locations throughout the U.S. in 2013. In addition to the increasing consumer demand for healthier food options, a significant factor driving the company's decision to expand in Jacksonville is the strong performance of existing cafes in the market.

For instance, franchisee Jim Mabry, who has more than 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry, recently experienced year-over-year sales increases of 15 percent and 40 percent at his two Jacksonville cafes.

Mabry, who has been a Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchisee for 12 years, operates the two cafes with his wife and son.

Additionally, 27-year-old entrepreneur Nick Crouch has aggressive growth plans for the brand based on the strong sales of his three Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in the area.

"We've had great success in Jacksonville and the market is primed for growth," says Tropical Smoothie Cafe CEO Mike Rotondo. "Consumers in Jacksonville are increasingly ditching unhealthy fast-food options in favor of better-for-you alternatives. With fresh wraps, sandwiches, and made-to-order smoothies packed with fruits and veggies, Tropical Smoothie Cafe can fill that need in the local marketplace."

By pairing made-to-order smoothies with healthy menu items, Tropical Smoothie Cafe 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.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is seeking partnerships with local franchisees with general business experience and who are active in the community. Restaurant and food industry experience, though preferred, is not required to open a Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Rotondo says. 

Beverage, Denise Lee Yohn: QSR's Marketing Guru, Growth, News, Tropical Smoothie Cafe