Friday, August 17, 2012

Planet Smoothie Founder "Stayin Alive" While Copying Others

Groovy Smoothie quietly opened on Piedmont Avenue in midtown this past March.  At first glance, there seems to be nothing awry or out of place.  I knew something was different, somethingwas awry.

A little digging and an egotistical menu item later, I had the answer I was looking for:  "The Spockerfeller!"

Martin Sprock, the man behind fast casual concepts like Moe's Southwest Grill and Planet Smoothie, who has since sold both concepts, was now re-entering the smoothie business.

Sprock, together with Big Game Brands President, Daryl Dollinger, have been busy buying up restaurants and continuing to divest themselves of other failed concepts. Moe's is easily the biggest success to date  of the group formerly known as Raving Brands but now known as Big Game Brands.  The chain was sold to Atlanta-based FOCUS Brands in 2007, joining fellow fast casual concepts such as Schlotzsky's and Cinnabon.

Planet Smoothie was started by Sprock here in Atlanta in 1995, and grew throughout the southeast and later in the northeast.  In the early to mid 2000s, a number of Planet Smoothie locations closed including Loehmanns Plaza near North Druid Hills and Highland Avenue near Belly General Store.  Later, locations were shuttered in both Gwinnett Place and Perimeter Malls as well as in Powers Ferry Plaza in north Buckhead.

Planet Smoothie and fellow Raving Brands concept Shane's Rib Shack were sold to Edmonds Capital LLC in 2007 and were subsequently operated within Petrus Brands, a then newly created subsidiary of Edmonds.    The chain again began to grow and new locations soon opened in Lenox Square and off Sugarloaf Parkway in Duluth.

This past December, Franklin, Tennessee-based Tasti D-Lite purchased the 110-unit Planet Smoothie chain from Petrus Brands.  Tasti D-Lite, a frozen yogurt purveyor, has since opened dual branded units in partnership with Planet Smoothie.

Groovy Smoothie takes the place of Repicci's Italian Ice, a short lived and Daryl Dollinger-operated franchise of an existing Italian ice shop without prior representation in the metro area.   The Italian ice shop soon failed and was for a short time on the market. Before being Repicci's the space was a Smoothie King, one of the chief rivals of Planet Smoothie.  Enter Groovy Smoothie.

Groovy Smoothie claims its smoothies are made from fresh, never frozen fruits and contain no "sketchy additives."  As I have first hand experience working behind the scenes of a Planet Smoothie and knowing what I know about the way Sprock and friends operate, I'd ask for a chemical analysis before believing the propaganda.

So why is Martin Sprock, who has since relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, re-entering the smoothie business, and why not say it publicly?  Also, why does his logo look like a combination of a knock off of his former concept and that of industry icon Jamba Juice?  (Jamba Juice opened a store within the Whole Foods Market in Sandy Springs when the store opened but it has since removed itself from the store, leaving them with zero representation in the market)

Sprock jumped on the fro yo bandwagon with his gimmicky but awful tasting Cowlicks Yogurt & Floats and had no problem associating it with Big Game Brands, why all the secrecy with Groovy Smoothie?

What do you think of Sprock's new smoothie business?  Do you think Sprock has another successful chain in the making?  Do you believe that  there really are no additives or preservatives in a Groovy Smoothie?


Anonymous said...

Besides that the font looks like graavy smaathie, which sounds disgusting.

Anonymous said...

the font made me think of menchies, though i know there are differences.

so i guess there are additives, just no sketchy ones?

Anonymous said...

Amazing the ride Sprock has been on. Meteoric rise and such a quick fall. Cowlicks & Groovy Smoothie just reek of desperation. Has he lost the ability to come up with new ideas? Say what you will about Moe's, but it was a huge success for him. But then his other ideas were sort of half-assed. There is no reason that Mama Fu's couldn't have been successful. Asian Fast Casual is a growing segment. The food at Panda Express is awful, yet it seems to be doing fine. Mama Fu's should have had better food and should be successful. Did he make so much money off of the sale of his businesses that he just doesn't care?

Anonymous said...

All of this over smoothies???

Move on.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the smoothie place from the TV show iCarly.

Anonymous said...

Wait, the smoothie is called "Spockerfeller?" Is it a Vulcan smoothie? Odd.....

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly the store at Perimeter Mall often smelled like poop when you walked by, so I never though it was clean. And when I worked in the mall, I noticed on more than one occasion there was a little too much "svegliate mia ninetta" going on in the back room, if you know what I mean.

Carl said...

As always, your retail knowledge in unparalleled. I scratched my head when I first heard of this business, and I'll keep right on passing it by. Thanks for putting the pieces together for us.

Atlantan99 said...


Thank you Carl. Your comments and readership are greatly appreciated.