Tropical Smoothie Cafe
|Industry||Fast Casual Restaurant|
|Founded||1997Destin, Florida, U.S.in|
Number of locations
|Charles Watson (CEO)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP)|
Tropical Smoothie Cafe, sometimes referred to as Tropical Smoothie, or Tropical, is a restaurant franchise in the United States. In addition to smoothies, the cafes offer sandwiches, wraps, salads, flat breads, and introduced bowls to their food line in 2017. Tropical Smoothie Cafe operates more than 850 locations nationwide with 2,000 projected openings across the United States by 2024.
Tropical Smoothie began as a smoothie shop in 1993 along the panhandle of Florida. Tropical Smoothie Franchise Development Corporation was founded in 1997 in Destin, Florida, and the first franchised store opened in 1998 in Tallahassee, Florida. Tropical Smoothie Cafe is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1999, they created a niche in the smoothie category by introducing a line of food items including sandwiches and wraps. As more locations opened, the individual Cafes redesigned their store decor to offer a beach house theme with bright white walls, an open kitchen concept, vibrant colors, and tropical artwork.
In 2006, Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened their 200th store in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and in 2011 they opened their 300th store in Fort Myers, Florida. They opened their 400th location in Toledo, Ohio, 500th location in Westland, Michigan, and in 2017 their 600th location in Joplin, Missouri. They opened their 800th location in Arlington Heights, IL in 2019. Tropical Smoothie Cafe is now opening a new store at a pace of every 3–4 days, an improvement from their pace of every 6–7 days in 2007, their 10th anniversary year.
Founders and original owners Eric and Delora Jenrich and David Walker came from franchise backgrounds and used that knowledge to grow Tropical Smoothie Cafe. As they grew, they recruited others from the food industry.
In 2012, private equity firm Buckhead Investment Partners (BIP) bought a controlling interest in Tropical Smoothie Cafe. Founders Eric Jenrich and David Walker, the former owners of Tropical Smoothie Cafe, remained on the board of directors, and former Chief Operating Officer, Mike Rotondo, was promoted to replace Jenrich as chief executive officer in 2012 until his departure in 2018. BIP partner Scott Pressly, who was a financial and strategic adviser to the chain since 2007 served as the chairman until 2020. The brand was acquired by private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) in September 2020. Charles Watson currently serves as the chief executive officer.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe's menu includes smoothies, sandwiches, flat-breads, wraps, bowls, and breakfast items. They offer superfood, classic, indulgent, and supercharged smoothies along with supplements that may be added to each smoothie. The best-selling smoothie has continued to be the Island Green.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe also rolls out Limited Time Offerings 4–5 times per year. Previous LTOs have included a spinach wrap and salad, a watermelon mojito-flavored smoothie, a spicy Thai chicken wrap, a sweet chili chicken flatbread, and more.
Tropical Smoothie Cafes sales are made up of 50% smoothie sales and 50% food sales.
In May 2013, Tropical Smoothie Cafe began offering a vegan, non-GMO meat substitute called Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat is made of a blend of faba bean protein, pea protein, flours, and fiber. In July 2013, Tropical Smoothie Cafe announced that Beyond Meat would become a permanent fixture on the menu.
To celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2007, Tropical Smoothie Cafe created a holiday called National Flip Flop Day. Every year, on the second Friday in June, Tropical Smoothie Café celebrates National Flip Flop Day. Customers who come into a participating Cafe from 2 pm to 7 pm wearing flip flops receive a free 16-oz. Sunshine Smoothie. Tropical Smoothie gives proceeds of a $1 paper flip flop from customers to send ill children and their families to Camp Sunshine.
Since 2007, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has raised over $7.5 million to support Camp Sunshine's mission to provide an authentic camp experience for children with life-threatening illnesses and their entire families.
- "Tropical Smoothie Cafe outlines growth plans". Nation's Restaurant News. May 3, 2011.
- "Tropical Smoothie Cafe". Tropicalsmoothie.com. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
- "Tropical Smoothie exec upbeat about 2011". Nation's Restaurant News. February 15, 2011.
- mary (29 May 2013). "Tropical Smoothie Ditches the Meat for Latest Menu Addition". Retrieved 13 June 2018.
- Erin Dostal (July 9, 2013). "Tropical Smoothie Café to add meatless protein to permanent menu". Nation's Restaurant News. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
- "Tropical Smoothie Cafe". Nationalflipflopday.com. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
- "National Flip Flop Day | Tropical Smoothie Cafe". www.tropicalsmoothiecafe.com. Retrieved 2019-04-02.