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Published on: January 12, 2023

Fast-Casual Cafe Concept Achieves 11th Consecutive Year of Positive Same-Store-Sales Growth, Fueled by Franchise Growth, Digital Enhancements and Giveback Efforts

ATLANTA – Tropical Smoothie Cafe is rounding out yet another year of impressive growth. With 158 cafe openings and 258 executed franchise agreements in 2022, the brand was able to achieve its 11th consecutive year of positive same-store-sales growth, a notable milestone in the franchise industry. This strategic expansion has reinforced its industry-leading position and set the stage for 2023 and beyond.

“The leadership and commitment from our franchisees and support team made 2022 another successful year for Tropical Smoothie Cafe. From a 19% increase in openings to triple-digit franchise agreements, continued digital innovation and new charitable partnerships, we’ve been able to honor our brand-wide commitment to Inspire Better®,” said Charles Watson, CEO of Tropical Smoothie Cafe, LLC. “We ended the year on a high note and are confident that our momentum will continue into 2023 and strengthen our stance as an industry leader.”

Franchise Growth

A testament to the brand’s dedication to growing its footprint through a strong franchise development strategy, franchisees opened 158 locations this year, officially marking the highest number of new cafe openings for the brand in a single year. Existing franchisees continue to be a driving force behind the brand’s growth, accounting for more than 75% of the 2022 openings.

Similarly, the brand signed 258 franchise agreements in 2022, many of which will expand Tropical Smoothie Cafe into key territories across the Midwest, as well as Northeastern and Southern states. These agreements will continue to fuel future growth for the brand. 

Among the brand’s achievements in 2022 was the noteworthy opening of its 1,100th cafe. Situated in Charlotte, North Carolina, owners Stacey and Maurice Pugh opened the momentous location in June of 2022. The brand is now preparing to open its 1,200th location this month, a nod to the brand’s franchisees and support team.

Restaurant Prototype Innovation

In a year of continued firsts for the brand, Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened its first airport location in March at the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. The non-traditional location features an efficient design equipped to handle the increased foot traffic from guests on the go.

Strengthening non-traditional growth throughout the year, new locations also opened on five military bases in 2022, increasing the brand’s footprint with 13 active military base locations now open.

Likewise, the brand opened its first-ever double drive-thru location in October, also in Oklahoma City. Owned and operated by existing franchisee Rohit Patel, the new model includes two drive-thru lanes, one standard and the other designated for digital ordering pickup, including orders placed via the new Tropical Smoothie Cafe mobile app, on the brand’s website, through third-party delivery services and for curbside delivery.

“Opening a new prototype for the brand is always exciting,” said Cheryl Fletcher, Chief Development Officer of Tropical Smoothie Cafe, LLC. “Our brand stays ahead of the curve with the latest wants and needs of both our guests and operators, and right now that is strongly linked to convenience. We want to be where our guests are, and our new formats help us achieve that.”

Digital Guest Experience

To further increase engagement with the brand’s most loyal and in-the-know guests across digital channels, Tropical Smoothie Cafe expanded its loyalty program membership by 69% in 2022. Its redesigned app drove awareness of the program, with offers like T-Mobile Tuesdays, National Flip Flop Day®, National Smoothie Day and Tropic Fan Fest increasing membership across markets.

Emphasizing continued innovation and dedication towards guest retention and repeat orders, Tropical Smoothie Cafe introduced an improved Tropic Rewards® program with a totally new structure to benefit guests. Guests using the app also had special access to digital-only menu items, such as the Valentine’s Day Chocolate Covered Strawberry Smoothie, and the holiday-themed Gingerbread Smoothie.

No Kid Hungry Partnership

This year also marked the brand’s first year partnering with No Kid Hungry, a nationwide organization working to end childhood hunger by giving all kids access to three healthy meals a day.

In a special promotional campaign, guests at participating Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations could purchase a Sunshine Smoothie, with $1* from their purchase going to No Kid Hungry. Guests also had the option to round up their donation through the app, a first for the brand. The initiatives ran from August 31 to October 4, resulting in more than $730,000 raised.   

“Our recent partnership with No Kid Hungry reflects our commitment and mission to Inspire Better, a value we carry with us in each new initiative introduced,” said Deborah von Kutzleben, Chief Marketing Officer of Tropical Smoothie Cafe, LLC. “Our franchisees and guests are always eager to help those in need, and our fundraising this last year will make a meaningful impact for children across the country.”

Awards and Rankings

Further establishing itself as a leader in the fast casual restaurant segment, Tropical Smoothie Cafe earned a spot on QSR magazine’s 25 Fastest-Growing Fast-Food Chains in America list, ranking #10 among a prestigious group of brands continually increasing their footprints. To view the entire QSR 25 Fastest-Growing Fast-Food Chains in America list, visit:

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has also been recognized for its impressive growth by Franchise Times, landing on its Top 500 list,an exclusive annual ranking of the 500 largest U.S.-based franchise systems by global systemwide sales. The brand moved up 10 spots in its 2022 ranking, listed at #102. To view Tropical Smoothie Cafe and the full 2022 Franchise Times Top 500 rankings, visit:  

Additionally, Tropical Smoothie Cafe ranked #11 in Entrepreneur magazine’s 44th annual Franchise 500, with the prestigious spot at #1 in the Juice and Smoothie Category. Those companies honored are recognized for their exceptional performance in areas such as unit growth, financial strength and stability, and brand power.

The brand’s accolades are attracting a qualified set of franchise candidates. Ideal franchisees should have business experience, along with a minimum net worth of $350,000, which includes $125,000 in liquid assets. Candidates who meet these preliminary qualifications will need to make an initial investment ranging between $277,000 – $584,000.  

*$1 per Sunshine Smoothie purchased between 8/31/22-10/4/22 was donated to No Kid Hungry®️ to help get all kids the healthy food they need to shine bright.

About Tropical Smoothie Cafe®    

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a national fast-casual cafe concept inspiring a healthier lifestyle with more than 1,175 locations nationwide. For 25 years, the brand has been serving better-for-you smoothies, wraps, sandwiches and flatbreads. Tropical Smoothie Cafe also offers upgraded app technology and enhanced mobile ordering capabilities to further elevate the digital and dine-in cafe experience and emphasize the brand’s focus on convenience. The rapidly growing franchise has received numerous accolades, including a top 10 ranking in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500. It has also been named to Forbes’ Best Franchises list, and more recently Franchise Times’ Fast & Serious list and the Franchise Times Top 400 ranking. Notably, the franchise was also recognized on Fast Casual’s Top 100 Movers and Shakers, Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 and Top 10 Fastest-Growing Chains, Restaurant Business’ America’s Favorite Chains, and was awarded the TOPSCORE Fund Award and a Fund Score of 910 by FRANdata in 2022.    

*2022 Entrepreneur magazine “Franchise 500” rankings  

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