Smoothie King Entering Northwest Arkansas Market

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 586 views 

Northwest Arkansas will soon get its first taste of New Orleans-based restaurant chain Smoothie King.

Local franchisees Thuc (pronounced Tuck) and Jackie Tran of Bentonville have signed an agreement to develop five stores in Northwest Arkansas.

The couple recently closed on a $250,000 land purchase for the first location, a 0.71-acre site directly north of Zaxby’s restaurant at the northwest corner of Southeast J Street and Southeast Walton Boulevard in Bentonville.

Smoothie King will occupy approximately 1,050 SF of a 3,038-SF building, with the remainder available for lease.

Oelke Construction Co. of Springdale is the builder and Burris Architecture of Rogers is the architect. Construction is expected to begin in two weeks with a target opening date of early September.

“Smoothie King is a great franchise in terms of the brand and the marketing support available from the headquarters,” Thuc Tran said. “With those pieces in place, we believe we can be very successful in Northwest Arkansas.”

Tran moved to Bentonville in 2002 and has more than a decade of experience working in the supplier community, most notably for The Coca-Cola Co. He and his wife also own and operate Rouge Salon and Nail Spa, which has locations in Bentonville and Rogers.

They are working with commercial real estate broker Clinton Bennett with CBRE Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville to identify locations for future Smoothie King developments.

Stephen Foley, a franchise development manager for Smoothie King, said Tran is the quintessential franchisee the company looks for, in that he is passionate about the brand and about living a healthy and active lifestyle.

 “He knows the community, owns a business in the community, and also understands the value of what we’re trying to achieve, and that is to promote a healthy, active lifestyle,” Foley said. “We’re happy to have Thuc developing this area. He’s a go-getter and we are excited that he and his family are introducing the brand to Northwest Arkansas.”

Smoothie King franchisees pay an initial franchise fee of $30,000 and royalty fees of 6 percent of gross sales, plus a marketing fee of 2 percent of sales, according to the company.

Foley said the average sales of a typical location range from $400,000 to $460,000 annually.

Smoothie King was founded in Kenner, Louisiana, in 1973 by Steve Kuhnau. Wan Kim, a franchisee in South Korea, bought the company in 2012. The company has about 750 locations internationally, with 650 of them in the United States.

In addition to its 50-plus nutritional smoothie choices, Smoothie King offers healthy living products including energy bars, snacks and vitamin supplements.

In 2014, the company paid an undisclosed amount to rename the former New Orleans Arena to the Smoothie King Center. The facility serves as the home court for the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans.

Tran said a goal in the Northwest Arkansas market will be partnering with local schools and bike shops to promote an active lifestyle.

“Thuc will be the brand ambassador for this area,” Foley said. “When people think of Smoothie King, they will think of Thuc and his family.”