In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about Tropical Smoothie Cafe from one of its newest multi-unit franchisees, Emily Harrington.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What was your career prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe?
Emily Harrington (EH): Prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I owned and operated 42 Hardee’s franchises from 2013-2016. Before pursuing a career in franchising, I worked in the finance industry in Boston after serving in the U.S. army overseas from 1999-2004 as a Signal Corps officer.
FC: When were you first introduced to the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand?
EH: My first Tropical Smoothie Cafe experience was when I moved to Florida in 2013. Following a healthy lifestyle has always been a priority for me, and I’m always on the hunt for quick and affordable nutritious food that you can grab on the go. There aren’t a lot of food concepts out there that can check all those boxes, so I was thrilled to come across Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
FC: Why did you decide to join Tropical Smoothie Cafe?
EH: After my time at Hardee’s, I knew that I wanted to stay in the restaurant business but was determined to focus on a concept with healthy, delicious food and a modern approach. Consumers today more than ever are focused on following a healthy lifestyle, and as a result gravitate towards food service brands offering better-for-you products.
Once I learned more about the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand and its commitment to making nutritious food affordable and accessible, it was the obvious choice.
FC: What made you decide to pursue a career in franchising? Why franchising as opposed to starting your own concept?
EH: After leaving the army, I was determined to own my own business and pursue my entrepreneurial spirit. While I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I was hesitant about going at it alone and it took me many years to determine that franchised restaurants were the perfect fit for me.
Franchising offers individuals with the right amount of drive and determination an opportunity to own their own business without a lot of the risk associated with launching a start-up.
FC: How did your past experience prepare you for owning a business?
EH: Without a doubt, my experience in the Army has prepared me well for owning and operating a restaurant. While serving in the Army, I served as a Platoon Leader and Company Executive Officer, as well as in a variety of staff positions at both the Brigade and Corps levels. As a result, I’ve trained myself to look at each restaurant like a platoon and know how to lead all of my employees to be hard working and have a good attitude.
Additionally, my time working in finance prepared me to view the business from a rational perspective, as well as to always shop for the best deal whether from a lender, real estate development, or supplier.
FC: How many Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations do you currently own? Do you have any plans for future expansion?
EH: I purchased three existing cafes in Tampa and will be opening an additional four new locations throughout the Tampa Bay, Florida area over the next several years, with an ultimate goal to own at least 50 Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurants.
Over the past several years, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has grown significantly in markets nationwide, and I’m excited to grow alongside the brand and be a part of its ongoing success.
FC: What makes Tropical Smoothie Cafe a great business opportunity?
EH: Tropical Smoothie Cafe is an incredibly unique concept that’s poised for significant growth both in Florida and nationwide. Unlike many of today’s average fast casual restaurants, Tropical Smoothie Cafe is entirely focused on providing better-for-you menu items, and has a broad appeal to many different types of consumers, from millennials and fitness buffs to soccer moms and individuals simply looking to adopt healthier eating habits.
The capital investment required to open new locations is a fraction of what many other fast casual and quick-service brands demand.
Additionally, the kitchen operations are less complex than many other brands, and do not require deep fryers, griddles, or significant amounts of cooking.
Most importantly, unlike some other smoothie concepts, Tropical Smoothie Cafe utilizes fresh produce and ingredients, thus appealing to the preferences of today’s modern consumer.
For more information about opening your own Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise, please visit www.tropicalsmoothiefranchise.com.