Smoothie King Hits 800, Shoots for 1,000
As Smoothie King celebrates a major milestone—its 800th store opening—the New Orleans-based company is focused on hitting 1,000 units by the end of 2017. It’s a lofty goal, but its owner and CEO, Wan Kim, is no stranger to achieving massive goals both as a master franchisee in South Korea and, now, as leader of one of the franchise industry’s healthiest brands.
The 800th Smoothie King location, in Orlando, Florida, officially opens for business on Tuesday, August 2. To celebrate the grand opening, franchisees Todd and Lorraine Pater will give away 800 20-ounce smoothies. Smoothie King will also deliver free smoothies to police stations and first responders in Orlando, Winter Park, Oviedo, Lake Mary and Windermere.
“My vision is for Smoothie King to help more and more guests around the world achieve their nutrition and fitness goals by using our products to live a healthy and active lifestyle," Kim said of the occasion. “Our pace of opening new locations shows that our strategic development efforts are working in highly competitive markets, and this milestone store is a precursor to where the brand is going in the future. Crossing the 800-unit mark is a major achievement that takes us one step closer to reaching our goal to have 1,000 locations open by the end of 2017.”
Earlier this summer, I had lunch with Kim at the oldest family-run restaurant in his new hometown of New Orleans. He told me the story of buying the brand and then moving his wife and two children to the Big Easy from their home in Seoul.
After he briefly considered moving the brand’s HQ to Atlanta or Houston—large, regional draws for company headquarters—the city’s personality and his employees' attachment to it changed his opinion. He kept the brand in its hometown, and even boosted its visibility by purchasing the naming rights to Smoothie King Center, home of the New Orleans Pelicans NBA team.
“I started to realize a lot of my employees who’ve been with us for 10-15 years have so much attachment to the city,” he said over a lunch of local fish and oysters. “Their families live here, their parents, their brothers and sisters.”
Beyond business, he shared his kids' reactions to being minorities in their new school, his outside-of-work city boosting efforts, his interest at starting another brand in the future and his commitment to Smoothie King’s goal of helping corn-fed Americans eat better through meal replacement smoothies.
Hearing a brand talk about plans for massive growth is one thing—I hear it almost every day as a reporter at Franchise Times—but combining ambitious plans with a clearly kind and generous heart is another. I’d bet on Smoothie King’s future growth, and I felt that way before I sampled their delicious smoothies later that afternoon.