Monday, December 23, 2013

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Gets A Second Wind in Return to Metro Atlanta

Atlanta-based Tropical Smoothie Cafe is re-entering the metro Atlanta market.  The smoothie and sandwich franchise had a number of locations across the metro in the mid to late 2000s but  they all closed around 2008.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe was founded in Destin, Florida in 1997 with its first franchised location opening in Tallahassee, Florida.  Today, the chain includes over 350 locations in 36 states, and is headquartered in Dunwoody.

Among the locations I recall being around metro Atlanta were restaurants in Decatur, south Buckhead, Midtown and Buford.

In Decatur, on West Ponce de Leon Avenue, Tropical Smoothie Cafe became Swirlin' Twirlin', a frozen yogurt shop.  In midtown, the former cafe became a Jimmy John's location, while in south Buckhead on Peachtree Road, the former TSC reopened as Subway.  In Buford near the Mall of Georgia, Chimney-Up Cafe opened in place of a shuttered Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

Interestingly in Stockbridge, a TSC locations closed a couple years back in a Kroger-anchored center and later reopened in a Publix-anchored center, nearby.

The newest Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened at Perimeter Pointe shopping center in Sandy Springs.  In this case, Tropical Smoothie Cafe replaced what had most recently been a Yoforia frozen yogurt franchise.  This opening would seem to mark the chain's return to metro Atlanta and comes on  the heels of announced plans to grow the chain even more.

In the past, most, if not all, Atlanta area locations were franchised.  This time around, the Sandy Springs location and supposedly others slated for development in the metro, will all be corporately owned.  This is a wise move so that the parent company can have better control over their local units and hopefully maintain them better. It was widely reported that previous franchisees in Atlanta and beyond blamed their closures on unhelpful and "poorly run" corporate management of years past.

This year, Tropical Smoothie Cafe added 40 franchise locations and signed 70 new franchise agreements TSC intends to further accelerate expansion in 2014 with plans to open 55 new cafés throughout the U.S.

Other new locations are said to be in the works in Decatur, among other areas. (Could TSC reopen in their previous Decatur location?)

Fun Fact :  In the early 2000s, Brendon Urie, lead singer of Panic! at the Disco, worked at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in his hometown of Summerlin, Nevada, in order to pay his band's rent for their practice space. At the cafe, Urie often sang for customers, singing what he was into at the time but he was also "down for requests."

Atlanta-based Planet Smoothie tried adding more food to its menu and opened two Planet Smoothie Cafe concept locations, but neither did especially well and both have since closed.  Planet Living, which added frozen yogurt, was also tested, but closed shortly after as well.

Last year, Atlanta-based BIP Opportunities Fund LP invested $10 million to take a controlling interest in Tropical Smoothie Cafe.  BIP is headquartered on Perimeter Center West, a short distance from the new Sandy Springs location.

Interestingly, both Tropical Smoothie Cafe and fellow BIP-investment Tin Drum AsiacafĂ© have recently hired former Arby's Restaurant Group executives to lead growth of the respective chains.

Could Atlanta see a return of Emeryville, California-based Jamba Juice?  Do you think Tropical Smoothie Cafe will be successful this time around?  Do you think Atlanta will see many more frozen yogurt closures over the next six to twelve months?

Please share your thoughts below.  

1 comment:

Rick lane said...

Megan fox also worked for Tropical Smoothie in jensen beach florida.