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Published on: September 2, 2021

One of the leading fast-casual brands recognized as the “Most Lender-Friendly Restaurant Franchise”

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a leading national fast-casual cafe franchise known for both its better-for-you smoothies and food with a tropical twist, is the winner of FRANdata’s 2021 TopScore FUND Award in the food category. The honor was announced today at the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference in Las Vegas.

Two women and one man standing on stage holding award and posing for picture

FRANdata presents the TopScore FUND Award each year to one food and one non-food brand with a leading FUND score — a franchise credit risk score that rates 12 credit risk categories such as franchise business success rates, franchise unit profitability and franchisee support — and that consistently demonstrates a commitment to supporting franchisees’ access to financing. Tropical Smoothie Cafe has a score of 910, near the top of the highest-performing range.

“For more than a decade, Tropical Smoothie Cafe LLC and its franchisees have been delivering results,” said Darrell Johnson, CEO of FRANdata. “As a result, they are a highly sought-after franchise opportunity in the foodservice industry. They recognize the importance of supporting their franchisees to obtain financing. Their FUND score demonstrates both the results the franchise opportunity provides franchisees and the financing support they put as a central tenet of their franchise development strategy.”

Additionally, the award celebrates the level of support that Tropical Smoothie Cafe LLC gives to each franchisee. During the pandemic, Tropical Smoothie Cafe LLC pivoted its business model to better serve franchisees, their crew members and guests, implementing hyper-local marketing initiatives and enhanced ordering modes to include curbside and delivery options.

“The Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand is nothing without our incredible franchisees, and that’s why our focus is their success, whether through great new products, digital updates, targeted marketing or operational support,” said Tropical Smoothie Cafe LLC CEO Charles Watson. “Winning the TopScore FUND Award means a lot to us because it demonstrates that we are doing what we set out to do — be a best-in-class franchisor with passionate, engaged franchisees that offer delicious food and smoothies and provide excellent hospitality in their communities.”

In 2020, the franchisor’s development team provided best practices and support to guide franchisees through the Paycheck Protection Program, and the real estate team shifted priorities to help franchisees negotiate rent deferrals and abatements with landlords. Tropical Smoothie Cafe LLC also offered a 50% royalty relief reduction for eight weeks to further support franchisees.

Additionally, to help franchisees support their local communities in 2020, Tropical Smoothie Cafe LLC worked with its franchisees to donate more than 200,000 smoothies to medical workers and first responders as part of the nationwide #InThisTogether campaign.

As a result, the brand has continued to see impressive growth in 2021. At the end of Q2, the company posted a year-over-year same-store-sales increase of 38% and a two-year same-store increase of 29%. The company is on pace to open its 1,000th location this month and open a total of 130 new cafes in 2021, with a goal of 1,500 units open by the end of 2024.

About FRANdata

FRANdata is a leading franchise-focused research and advisory company. By leveraging the largest database of franchise information to date and with over 30 years’ experience analyzing the franchise market, FRANdata creates targeted business development strategies and actionable solutions that provide their clients with the information they need to understand risk, measure opportunities and improve performance. FRANdata is the creator of the FUND (Franchise Credit Scoring) report, which is relied upon by lenders with over a trillion dollars in assets to assess their franchise credit risks. For more information go to

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