Published on: December 11, 2023
Article Source: Franchising Magazine USA
Paul and Armi Rhodes have quickly become an integral stitch in the fabric of Clarksville, Tennessee. With a combined history of over 40 years in the military, the Rhodes’ have continued to dedicate themselves to the very same values their service instilled in them – a commitment to uplifting their community, supporting those around them and making a conscious effort to be part of something bigger than just themselves.
Though they have since traded in their service uniforms for the colorful Tropical Smoothie Cafe ensemble (yes, colorful polo and nametag included), the newest adventure for the Rhodes family is nothing short of a mission to Inspire Better®.
Their journey with Tropical Smoothie Cafe begins back in basic training, where Paul and Armi first met. “That was over 30 years ago,” Armi recounts. “Now we have two children and several businesses together, so we’ve done a lot of growing since then.”
Armi served the US military for more than 20 years as an army nurse, while Paul served just under 30 years as a military policeman. Both were incredibly successful in these fields, but the husband-and-wife duo knew they wanted to eventually pursue business ownership once they retired from their service.
“I had transitioned to serving as a recruiter, and a new Tropical Smoothie Cafe location was being built right next door to our office,” said Paul, reflecting on the moment that ignited their journey into franchising. “That was the first time I had ever tried their smoothies and food. I called Armi immediately and said, ‘I think I may have found our next move.’”
Just a short time later, the Rhodes were open for business with their first cafe in Clarksville. Their second location followed shortly after, and they most recently opened a third non-traditional cafe on Fort Campbell’s military base. The Rhodes both recall the veteran discount Tropical Smoothie Cafe offered as a cherry-ontop of the franchise agreement. Knowing firsthand just how important veteran benefits can be to those who have served, the incentive showed them that Tropical Smoothie Cafe is committed to setting community leaders up for success.
Their business ownership and growth are also marked by numerous community giveback initiatives, something that they’ve held closely to their hearts since the beginning of this journey.
“We’ve always believed in the power of giving back,” said Armi. “It’s not just about serving smoothies; it’s about serving our community and inspiring better every single day. We’ve stuck by the message that there’s always something bigger, some greater cause, that’s more than yourself, so we’ve really tried to implement those same values into our day-to-day operations.”
Armi is the founder of Mindful Kids Inc., a non-profit organization that offers free yoga and mindfulness sessions to local children and teenagers. The organization was started as a way to give local kids an outlet to nurture their minds and provide them with the tools to live mindfully. “It’s all about fostering a sense of mindfulness and self-awareness,” said Armi. “We believe that by instilling these values early on, we can inspire a generation of conscious and compassionate leaders for the future, something that I wish more children had access to.”
Their involvement doesn’t stop there. Paul is an active board member of Operation Stand Down Clarksville, a local organization providing support and benefits to veterans. He is also deeply committed to Recover Our Sons, an initiative focused on empowering and uplifting young men within the community. In addition, Armi is a longtime volunteer for the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that provides free housing for the loved ones of active duty and veteran personnel who are undergoing medical care.
“We’ve always been driven by a sense of duty and service, both in the military and beyond,” said Paul. “It’s about making a real impact and creating a ripple effect of positivity, not just for ourselves but for those around us.”
That sentiment also rings true for why the couple landed on Tropical Smoothie Cafe. The menu and relaxed environment have truly transformed the Rhodes’ lives, allowing them to embody what it means to live a better lifestyle as opposed to the always-on-the-go lifestyle so many people are currently leading.
“When you step into our cafe, it’s more than just grabbing a smoothie; it’s stepping into a space on Tropic Time™, where you can relax, recharge and refuel your mind,” said Armi. “It’s about inspiring better choices and better living, not just for ourselves, but for our community as a whole. We want to see them succeed, and this feels like a tangible way of doing that.”
As they continue to expand their vision, the Rhodes remain committed to their mission of serving the community, one smoothie at a time. While their three cafes are thriving, their hope is to continue extending their reach and impact, spreading a message of community and inclusivity throughout the Clarksville community and beyond.