Tropical Smoothie Cafe

Last Updated on June 27, 2021

June 26, 2021

Founders and original owners of Tropical Smoothie, Eric and Delora Jenrich and David Walker, came from franchise backgrounds. Their combined knowledge and experience allowed them to grow Tropical Smoothie Cafe. As the chain expanded, they took on others with experience in the food industry.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s 955 U.S. Store Locations

Where’s a good place to start a smoothie shop? How about Florida?
In 1993, along the Florida panhandle, Tropical Smoothie opened its first smoothie shop. Then, in 1997, the Tropical Smoothie Franchise Development Corporation was founded in Destin, Florida. One year later, the first franchised store opened in Tallahassee, Florida. And, I guess the rest is history.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1999, Tropical Smoothie introduced sandwiches and wraps to go with their line of smoothies. As the chain expanded and more locations opened, the individual Cafes redesigned their stores in beach house style, with brilliant color schemes and lots of tropical artwork.

As the new millenium rolled in, Tropical Smoothie Cafe just kept on growing. In 2006, Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened their 200th store in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and just five years later in 2011 they opened their 300th store in Fort Myers, Florida. But, wait, they still kept on growing, with 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. Today there are 955 Tropical Smoothie Cafes across the United States, with the highest concentration in the eastern half.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is now opening a new store every three to four days, which is even faster than their pace of every six to seven days in 2007, their 10th anniversary year.

In 2012, Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s founders, Eric Jenrich and David Walker, sold a controlling interest to the equity firm of Buckhead Investment Partners (BIP). They did, however, remain on the board of directors. Former Chief Operating Officer, Mike Rotondo, was promoted to chief executive officer in 2012, replacing Jenrich until his departure in 2018. The brand was acquired by private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) in 2020. Charles Watson currently serves as the chief executive officer.

What’s on the menu
Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s sales are made up of 50 percent smoothies and 50 percent food. About four or five times a year, they offer specials, such as a spinach wrap salad and a spicy Thai chicken wraps. Their everyday menu includes tacos, sandwiches, wraps, salads and, of course, smoothies.

Keeping up with the times
Veganism (the practice of eating only food not derived from animals and avoiding the use of other animal products) may not be new, but it’s definitely gaining in popularity. In May 2013, Tropical Smoothie Cafe began offering a vegan, non-GMO meat substitute called Beyond Meat. Made of a blend of faba bean protein, pea protein, flours, and fiber, Beyond Meat offers vegans everything from a meat-free burger to meat-free chicken wings.

In July 2013, Tropical Smoothie Cafe announced that Beyond Meat would become a permanent fixture on the menu.

Every year, on the second Friday in June, Tropical Smoothie Café celebrates National Flip Flop Day. This special day was created in 2007 to celebrate their 10th anniversary. 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.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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