The Tropical Smoothie Cafe Menu Is A Lot Bigger Than You Thought - Exclusive

You wouldn't go to your local neighborhood sandwich shop and ask for a custom-made smoothie with fresh mango and pineapple, a scoop of whey protein, and few leaves of kale and ginger tossed in, right? Of course not! The sandwich shop does sandwiches, not smoothies. And just the same, you wouldn't go to a Tropical Smoothie Cafe and ask for a BBQ Shrimp Quesadilla or a Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wrap, right? 

Well, as it happens, in that latter case, you can and you should. Because while "smoothie" may be the word that stands out in the name Tropical Smoothie Cafe, it's the "cafe" of it all the defines the place, according to Tropical Smoothie Cafe's CEO Charles Watson. 

During an exclusive interview with Mashed, we asked Watson what he wishes more people knew about Tropical Smoothie Cafe. He immediately answered: "It's the food. And it's the high-quality food. It's not just: 'We have snacks!' We have a full-on robust kitchen that's preparing fresh products." That selection of almost 30 items includes quesadillas, flatbread, sandwiches, and salads (via Tropical Smoothie Cafe). "We have a broad array of food products that are both healthier and they're more boldly flavored. [And] our consumers really like our food. If it's not run-of-the-mill bland food, we want to bring a little bit of a culinary experience to quick-casual, and still provide convenience, and value, and all those kinds of things," Watson explained. He pointed to the BLT Quesadilla and Jerk Chicken Quesadilla as great current menu items. "We don't come out and just do a ham or turkey sandwich," Watson said. "We add some spice to it."

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has big plans for the future

While for many people, competitors like Jamba may have lots of name recognition, Tropical Smoothie Cafe is, in fact, one of the larger chains in the nation, and it's growing fast, too.

"We're now seeing a big acceleration in the business in 2021," Charles Watson said, "and I think we're right on pace. We're going to open 130 cafes on top of [the 99 opened] in 2020, so we're a brand that's growing going forward."

At present, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has a presence in 44 states, but Watson and his team could have their eyes all 50 in the near future. And while the chain is slated to open its 1,000th location later this year, in the next few years, the growth is not going to slacken in any way. "Our goal is to get to 1,500 cafes by 2024. I think we're well on our way. And this is a brand that you're going to be hearing a lot more about," Watson said.

To what does the CEO of the company attribute the success? By in large to the fact that, even as it grows as a whole, it remains a local business thanks to its franchise model. "I would tell you that what has ultimately driven this brand is our franchisees and it is our culture," Watson explained, adding: "Yes, it has a brand name on it, but it is Bill and Sally Smith on the corner and they're entrepreneurs. And so the way that they impact the communities where they operate is a really big part." And of course, according to Watson, the chain's Chipotle Chicken Club flatbread is certainly a draw.

Learn about Tropical Smoothie Cafe's newest promotions by following them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit their website to find a location near you.