Part­ners aim to be kings of the smooth­ies

The group just opened a Smoothie King in Con­cord and has an­other planned for West Ch­ester

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian McCul­lough bm­c­cul­lough@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @wc­dai­ly­lo­cal on Twit­ter

A West Ch­ester man and three part­ners are bring­ing a New Or­leans-based smoothie fran­chise to the Philadelphia re­gion.

Af­ter start­ing in Haver­town a lit­tle over a year ago, the group re­cently opened its se­cond Smoothie King lo­ca­tion in the area at a shop­ping cen­ter on Route 1 be­tween routes 202 and 322, with plans to open a third in West Goshen in the near fu­ture.

While the con­cept of smooth­ies is not new to the area – there’s a Jamba Juice fran­chise in nearby Malvern, for in­stance – Smoothie King op­er­at­ing part­ner Brad Lier­mann said the group is con­fi­dent the Philadelphia sub-

urbs are the right mar­ket for their “healthy al­ter­na­tive to fast food.”

“For us, mom with a mini­van and kids in there is our mar­ket,” said Lier­mann, 29, of West Ch­ester, who also op­er­ates the West Ch­ester and Wayne Cof­fee and Ice Cream Bar restau­rants. He is joined in the Smoothie King ven­ture by fran­chise part­ners Dave Riv­ell, Ash Swayne and Mike Casey.

“We’re ex­cited to bring this con­cept to the Philadelphia mar­ket,” said Lier­mann, whose back­ground is in real es­tate. “I kind of stum­bled into the food stuff. I re­ally en­joy the chal­lenges of it.”

Founded in 1973, Smoothie King Fran­chises Inc. is a pri­vately held, New Or­leans-area-based fran­chise com­pany with 800 units world­wide.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion touts cre­at­ing “smooth­ies with a pur­pose,” and sells them

in 20-ounce, 32-ounce and 40-ounce con­tain­ers as “meal replacements,” not bev­er­ages to ac­com­pany food se­lec­tions. Smooth­ies are made un­der slim blends, well­ness blends and take-a-break blends.

Nearly three-quar­ters of the fran­chise’s busi­ness is done through the drive-through win­dow, Lier­mann said. In­side, the stores have se­lec­tions of en­ergy bars, vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments and more.

A typ­i­cal se­lec­tion is $7.50 with the fran­chise run­ning $5 spe­cials on Mon­day.

At the Haver­town lo­ca­tion, Smoothie King gets a fair amount of busi­ness from those stop­ping af­ter their work­outs at a nearby YMCA and LA Fit­ness, Lier­mann said.

“Any­body in­ter­ested in putting bet­ter things in their bod­ies,” Lier­mann said of the fran­chise’s mar­ket.

That was how Fran­chise De­vel­op­ment Man­ager Chris Elam be­came in­volved with Smoothie King. She joined the com­pany

af­ter her hus­band twice bat­tled cancer. For him, The Hulk smoothie pro­vided a drink high in calo­ries to help him main­tain weight dur­ing treat­ments. It’s been 2½ years since his last chemo­ther­apy ses­sion and he con­tin­ues to work as an of­fi­cer with the Tampa, Florida, po­lice de­part­ment

“So I can tell you, we drink the Kool-Aid around here,” Elam said.

The fran­chise op­er­a­tor be­lieves the Philadelphia area could sup­port 30 to 40 Smoothie Kings, Elam said. On av­er­age, lo­ca­tions did $454,663 in sales last year, up 9.5 per­cent from 2014, she said.

Over­all, un­der its ac­cel­er­ated ex­pan­sion plan, Smoothie King plans to open more than 1,000 stores across the United States over the next three years.

“It’s when you get to 2,000 stores that you’re large enough to do na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing,” Elam said in ex­plain­ing why the fran­chise is so in­ter­ested in quickly grow­ing.

Lier­mann said he paid a $30,000 fran­chise fee to open the store in Con­cord, and in­vested an­other $300,000 into the equip­ment there. The store, which em­ploys 18 part­timers, mostly stu­dents, is lo­cated next to a Buf­falo Wild Wings and be­hind a Malvern Fed­eral Sav­ings Bank. There are spots for two other food re­tail­ers that have yet to be filled in the strip where the Smoothie King is lo­cated.

“This is a re­tail mecca,” he said of the heav­ily trav­eled sec­tion of Route 1. “We’re ex­cited to be the first in the strip.”

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Smoothie King op­er­at­ing part­ner Brad Lier­mann makes a smoothie.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

A Smoothie King fran­chise has opened in Con­cord, Delaware County. Op­er­at­ing part­ner Brad Lier­mann said the drive-through is a ma­jor part of the busi­ness.

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Smoothie King in Con­cord, Delaware County, of­fers nu­tri­tional and en­ergy bars and boosts.

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