Be good to yourself
|Founded||1973 in Kenner, Louisiana|
|Number of locations||600+ worldwide|
|Key people||Wan Kim, CEO|
|Revenue||$160.00 million systemwide|
Smoothie King is a smoothie food retailer that caters blended fruit-based drinks. First opening in 1973 as a stand-alone vitamin shop in Kenner, Louisiana, Smoothie King now encompasses over 600 locations.
Working as a soda jerker in his teenage years, Steve Kuhnau, founder of Smoothie King, found himself unable to digest the very malts, shakes, and floats he was preparing, due to a lactose intolerance. Consequently, he formulated the world's first nutritional smoothie in his kitchen, to serve as a healthier, dairy-free alternative to popular ice cream-based drinks of the era. His novel drink idea, a blend of fresh fruit coupled with vitamin and protein additives, proved also to be efficacious in treating his allergies and stabilizing his blood sugar level. This creation was the impetus for an industry: shortly after his first store opened in Kenner, Louisiana, in 1973, other stores were opened all over the New Orleans metropolitan area, and subsequently in Washington, D.C. and 32 other states. Kuhnau began to franchise the Smoothie King name and business in 1989. Smoothie King's 30-year anniversary, in 2003, was commemorated with their first international franchise, in South Korea.
In July 2012, Steve and Cindy Kuhnau sold the company to Wan Kim, Smoothie King's franchisee in South Korea, where the chain had grown to 130 stores. Kim said he had raised $58 million in capital from Standard Charter Private Equity and National Pension Fund. In November, the company announced that it would move its headquarters from Covington, Louisiana, to Metairie, in Jefferson Parish, near the company's first store in Kenner. The company cited a $2.4 million promised incentive from the Louisiana Department of Economic Development for its decision to stay in the state.
American Dairy Queen's Orange Julius brand, Jamba Juice, and Maui Wowi are Smoothie King's three largest competitors; another competitor is Smoothie Factory, and it competes in the blended beverage industry and on a larger scale special eateries.
Since 1989, Smoothie King has been named #1 franchise in their category 17 times by Entrepreneur Magazine.
On February 5, 2014, the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association announced that they had reached a 10-year sponsorship agreement to rename the New Orleans Arena as Smoothie King Center. The arena had been one of only three NBA arenas without a naming rights sponsor. Smoothie King owner Wan Kim said the deal would allow the company to show its commitment to New Orleans while also promoting its brand worldwide.
- The Story of Smoothie King — Smoothie King
- Carol Tice, "Flush With Cash, a Chain's New CEO Plots Smoothie Domination", Forbes, November 5, 2012.
- Drew Broach, "Smoothie King takes $2.4 million state sweetener to move to Metairie", Times-Picayune, November 20, 2012.
- Smoothie King - Franchise Information - Entrepreneur.com
- "Pelicans will play in Smoothie King Center", Associated Press in USA Today, February 6, 2014.
Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003.