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Tropical Smoothie Café Eyes Minnesota Expansion

Local Tropical Smoothie Cafe 'zee Daryl James arrives at the Franchise Times office bearing wraps and smoothies.

When I announced to my co-workers the offer by Tropical Smoothie Café to treat our team to lunch this week, I got a few odd looks followed by the tentative question, “So … we’re just having smoothies for lunch?”

It’s a common misconception given the restaurant’s name, said local franchisee Daryl James when he dropped by our Minneapolis office yesterday, and as he unpacked an array of toasted wraps in addition to five different smoothie varieties he noted that’s exactly why he’s glad to hear the franchisor is making expansion in the Twin Cites a priority.

“Other people might look at it as competition, but we just want to get the Tropical Smoothie Café name out there more so people know who we are and we’re not just smoothies,” said James, who bought what was then the only Minnesota café location in the outer suburb of Savage two years ago and opened his second store this summer in first-tier suburb St. Louis Park.

Tropical Smoothie Café positions itself as a healthier option in the fast-casual segment with flatbreads, sandwiches and wraps to go along with classic and “Superfood” smoothies, which is why company execs believe the concept is a perfect fit for an active, outdoor-focused Twin Cities metro population.

CEO Mike Rotondo, along with Chief Development Officer Charles Watson and others from the corporate team, are coming to town Wednesday, September 20, when James’ St. Louis Park restaurant in the Shoppes at Knollwood will host an event to introduce the concept to potential franchisees. According to the company, current Tropical Smoothie Café average unit volume is more than $662,000, with the top 50 percent of stores reporting an AUV of more than $846,000.

The franchise has more than 600 locations in 43 states, with plans to hit 1,000 stores by 2020.

As we enjoyed the fresh wraps including buffalo chicken, Thai chicken and the spinach, kale and romaine-packed Supergreen Caesar chicken, while sipping on Mango Magic and Acai Berry Boost smoothies, more than a few people commented that they wished Tropical Smoothie Café had a location closer to our office. We’ll be following the franchisor’s expansion efforts to see if that wish comes true.

Thanks again to Daryl James and Tropical Smoothie Café for lunch—and a breakroom freezer that’s still full of smoothies!

Meet the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Corporate Team
Wednesday, September 20, 7 p.m.
Shoppes at Knollwood, 8140 Hwy 7, St. Louis Park, MN
Mike Rotondo, CEO
Charles Watson, Chief Development Officer
Cheryl Fletcher, VP of Franchise Development Strategy
Jennifer Folger, Sr. Director of Franchise Development
Rob Metcalf, Franchise Business Consultant
Daryl James, Franchise Owner

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