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Published on: March 3, 2023

Article Source: Franchising Magazine USA March 2023

Stacey and Maurice Pugh are proud Tropical Smoothie Cafe owners in Charlotte, NC. Having been married for 33 years with two adult children, and both leading successful careers in their respective industries, the couple’s dive into franchising was unexpected.

So, how did they get to where they are today?

Prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Stacey held top-level roles in project management within the science and technology industries. Meanwhile, her husband, Maurice, worked for large-scale databases. The husband-and-wife duo’s previous work experience in their fields gave them a well-rounded perspective on business operations from all fronts, but they still were looking for ways to be more involved in their community.

It wasn’t until the height of the pandemic in 2020 when the Pugh’s really took notice of Tropical Smoothie Cafe. As businesses everywhere began shutting down, the Tropical Smoothie Cafe location near their house seemed inexplicably busier than ever. Day in and day out, the Pugh’s saw that the drive-thru always had a line, and it was one of the only places that wasn’t at risk of closing its doors permanently.

With this in mind, Stacey and Maurice saw an opportunity they could pursue as a family. The Pugh’s knew they wanted to seek out a business venture that both them and their two children would have a hand in, so they began the research process. After brainstorming, writing lists, and crafting vision boards, each family member had Tropical Smoothie Cafe as one of their top contenders in the franchise space.

The Pugh family connected with the Tropical Smoothie Cafe support center, and within months they had plans to develop their own location.

“Those early stages of getting our location up-and-running were filled with so much support from the Tropical Smoothie Cafe team, and that’s when we knew we made the right choice,” said Stacey. “The whole process was so seamless, from real estate selection to construction, to opening our doors and even being honored with the official title of the brand’s 1,100th location.”

The Pugh family’s location opened up in Charlotte in the summer of 2022, with a grand opening fit for all ages – featuring a ribbon cutting, face painting, commemorative t-shirts and an on-site DJ. The family also utilized their grand opening day to officially kick off their community giveback efforts, with a check donated to a local chapter of No Kid Hungry, an organization committed to reducing childhood hunger and a national partner of Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

In the eight months since opening their Charlotte location, the Pugh family has kept their promise to improve their community in every way they can—

  • They provided lunch for women in transition at the Women’s Resource Center in the Greensboro area.
  • They ignited a Health Initiative, providing free yoga classes with certified instructors every Saturday.
  • Their location partnered with the Salvation Army for the Magical Toy Drive Telethon, paying out-of-pocket to provide toys for children in need.
  • They have also gifted coupons for 95 smoothies to a local elementary school for holiday stocking stuffers, and have donated gift cards and merchandise to the Charlotte Chapter of Jack & Jill of America all in support of children in the community.
  • They’re actively donating coupons to gift free smoothies to over 70 young women who are participating in career coaching programs, just next door to their Charlotte cafe.

“We are a very tight, close-knit family,” said Stacey. “Part of that closeness means we want to be the family that people in our community can go to when they’re in need. We care very deeply about the success of young people in the Charlotte community, and opening a Tropical Smoothie Cafe location has allowed us to contribute to their development. It’s truly been a priceless gift in our lives.”

The Pugh family’s Tropical Smoothie Cafe location has now become such a pillar in the Charlotte community, and the family attributes this fully to their tight-knit relationship and commitment to serving the community.

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