Promotion comes as brand crosses the 1,000-location milestone amid rapid growth

Tropical Smoothie Cafe, a leading national fast-casual Cafe franchise known for its better-for-you smoothies and food with a tropical twist, has promoted former Senior Vice President of Operations Richard Key to Chief Operations Officer, effective immediately.

Richard Key Headshot

Key has served on the brand’s senior leadership team since joining the company in 2018. In his new role, he will help grow and evolve field support teams and lead internal initiatives that prioritize the Tropical Smoothie Cafe guest experience and franchise profitability.

“Over the past three years, Richard and his team have provided outstanding support and training for our growing franchise community during one of the most dynamic times in Tropical Smoothie Cafe history,” said Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe, LLC. “His experience and leadership have been foundational in our franchisees’ success. This well-deserved promotion will benefit our entire system.”

Key has 20 years of franchise operations experience with brands such as TCBY, Carvel, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Papa Murphy’s International, where he was a division Vice President responsible for field operations and marketing for 800 locations. During his tenure at Tropical Smoothie Cafe, the brand has grown to 1,000 restaurants and is on track to reach 1,500 by the end of 2024.

“Our top focus at Tropical Smoothie Cafe is to make sure that we not only provide a best-in-class guest experience, but also equip our franchisees to be the most successful in the industry,” said Key. “Three years ago, I began developing great relationships with our franchise community while implementing systems to support our record-breaking growth. I look forward to expanding my role with key projects and initiatives in the future and as we continue to grow.” 

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