Who owns Tropical Smoothie in Springfield MO?

Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a fast-casual restaurant franchise that serves smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, flatbreads, bowls, and more. The company was founded in 1997 in Destin, Florida and has since grown to over 900 locations across the United States. In Springfield, Missouri there are currently two Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations that are owned and operated by franchisees.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise Model

Tropical Smoothie Cafe operates on a franchise business model. Individual franchisees pay an initial franchise fee and ongoing royalties to the corporate entity, Tropical Smoothie Franchise Development Corporation, for the rights to open and operate a Tropical Smoothie Cafe restaurant in a designated territory. The franchisee is responsible for all aspects of their specific location, including funding, hiring staff, purchasing equipment and inventory, and day-to-day operations and marketing. However, they receive support from the corporate team in areas like site selection, training, purchasing programs, and brand standards compliance.

Currently, around 67% of Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations are owned by franchisees, while the other 33% are company-owned corporately. The mix provides a balance – the corporate stores allow the brand to test out new products, procedures, and marketing initiatives, while the franchised units bring local owner-operated energy and relationships to their respective communities.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Locations in Springfield, MO

There are two Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise locations open in the greater Springfield, Missouri area as of November 2023:

  • 3338 S Glenstone Ave, Springfield, MO 65804
  • 2020 E Independence St, Springfield, MO 65804

Both cafes are located along major commercial corridors in the southeast quadrant of the city. The Glenstone Avenue store is situated in a retail plaza along with other quick service restaurants like Starbucks, Chipotle, and Panera Bread. The East Independence Street location is in a strip mall neighboring grocery stores, banks, and fast food chains.

These two cafes serve smoothies, wraps, flatbreads, and bowls to the 300,000+ residents of the Springfield metro area. They also cater to University of Missouri and Missouri State University students, as both flagship campuses are located in the city.

3338 S Glenstone Ave Location

The Tropical Smoothie Cafe at 3338 S Glenstone Ave is owned and operated by franchisee Michael Crawford. Crawford owns two Tropical Smoothie Cafes in Springfield. He opened his first location downtown in 2010, then opened the Glenstone store in 2013.

Crawford got his start with Tropical Smoothie Cafe as a franchise sales representative in Atlanta in 2007. He was responsible for selling franchise territories across the Southeast. After learning about the brand and business model, he decided to become a franchisee himself and bring the concept to his hometown of Springfield.

“I was born and raised here, so I know the community well,” said Crawford. “I thought Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s food and atmosphere would pair perfectly with the Springfield lifestyle.”

Over the past 13 years, Crawford has built up a strong store team and loyal customer base at both cafes. He employs 15 staff members at the Glenstone location, led by General Manager Cindy Morris. Popular smoothie flavors at this cafe include Jetty Punch, Island Green, and Sunny Citrus.

2020 E Independence St Location

The Tropical Smoothie Cafe at 2020 E Independence St is owned and operated by franchisee Tim Brennan. Brennan opened his Springfield cafe in 2019 after working for years as a Tropical Smoothie Cafe employee and manager in Florida.

“I fell in love with the brand from my first day on the job,” said Brennan. “The flavors, service style, and business model just made sense.”

After rising to an area director role, Brennan decided to join the franchisee side and was approved to open a territory in his wife’s hometown of Springfield. His cafe employs around 20 team members, with Tracie Fisher serving as General Manager.

“We’re thrilled to bring the Tropical Smoothie experience to this side of town,” said Brennan. “Our location has allowed us to build a loyal customer base thanks to the surrounding schools, businesses, and neighborhoods.”

Top-selling items at this location include the Island Green and Beet Berry smoothie flavors, grilled flatbreads, and quinoa bowls. Brennan engages closely with the nearby Missouri State University campus, offering catering for events and sponsoring athletics.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise Owner Requirements

To become a Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise owner like Michael Crawford and Tim Brennan in Springfield, there are certain requirements from the corporate franchisor. Franchisees need to meet the following criteria:

  • Liquid assets of at least $125,000
  • Minimum net worth of $400,000
  • Commitment to open at least five cafes over a five year period
  • Willingness to personally invest in opening each cafe location
  • Real estate selection, design, and build out experience
  • Restaurant operations knowledge
  • Strong marketing and community networking skills
  • Leadership and team development abilities

Additionally, the total investment required to open a new Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise ranges from $277,850 – $585,500. This includes the initial franchise fee of $49,500. Ongoing fees include a 6% royalty on gross sales and ad fund contribution of 2% of gross sales.

Therefore, Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchisees need considerable business experience and financial resources to successfully launch and grow multiple units. The corporate team looks for candidates with multi-unit restaurant management backgrounds, entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen, and passion for the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand.

Advantages of Owning a Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise

There are many advantages to owning a Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise for those who meet the qualifications and investment requirements. Some key advantages include:

  • Proven business model: With over 900 locations open across the country, Tropical Smoothie Cafe has an established playbook for success.
  • Training & support: From site selection expertise to grand opening assistance, franchisees benefit from hands-on corporate team training and support.
  • National branding & marketing: As part of a larger brand, individual cafes get to leverage Tropical Smoothie’s national marketing campaigns and brand recognition.
  • Purchasing power: Equipment, inventory, and supplies are purchased at lower negotiated rates, allowing franchisees to get off the ground faster and control food costs.
  • Ongoing innovation: From the corporate test kitchen, new menu items, flavors, and promotional campaigns are continuously rolled out. Franchisees get access to what is working across the system.

Additionally, Tropical Smoothie Cafe is in the growing fast-casual restaurant segment, which is taking market share from fast food and full service chains. Customers appreciate the nutrition, quality ingredients, and contemporary atmosphere when dining at Tropical Smoothie Cafes.

Challenges of Owning a Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise

While the opportunity for growth and success is certainly there with Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchising, the model also comes with challenges that franchisees need to prepare for. Some potential challenges include:

  • Significant upfront investment: The nearly $300,000 minimum initial investment presents a high cost of entry that requires business savvy and access to capital.
  • Real estate dependence: Store sales are highly dependent on securing the right locations, which can be competitive and costly in certain markets.
  • Management responsibilities: As an owner-operator, franchisees take on all HR, staffing, training, and management duties for each cafe opened.
  • Self-funded growth: The franchise agreement requires franchisees to self-fund each new cafe site – corporate does not provide direct financial assistance for added locations.
  • Ongoing royalties: The 6% monthly royalty payment can impact profitability, making it imperative to drive strong unit-level sales.

Additionally, health food trends and competition from other chains like Smoothie King, Jamba Juice, and local players can make differentiation difficult. Overall though, the proven franchise model provides structure, training, and corporate support to overcome these types of challenges.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Franchise Growth and Performance

Tropical Smoothie Cafe has an aggressive franchise growth plan, aiming to expand to 1,500 total locations by 2025. They opened 53 new cafes systemwide in 2021 and signed 131 franchise agreements. This shows the continued demand for the concept in new markets across the U.S.

Existing franchisees are also seeing strong performance. Average unit volumes grew 13.1% in 2021 over the previous year. For established cafes open at least 24 months, average AUV was $732,000 in 2021.

On a systemwide basis, Tropical Smoothie Cafe had total sales of $461 million in 2020. The pandemic impacted sales that year but they have since rebounded. With the growing health and wellness food trend, the brand is well-positioned for expansion.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe ranks in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 and Franchise Business Review’s Top 50 Franchises for Owner Satisfaction. This shows that both franchisors and franchisees see value in the brand and business model.


In the Springfield, Missouri market, the two Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations are owned and operated by experienced multi-unit franchisees Michael Crawford and Tim Brennan. They have invested significantly over the years to open and grow cafes in the area, benefiting from Tropical Smoothie’s training, marketing and operational franchise structure.

Nationwide, Tropical Smoothie Cafe continues aggressively expanding with new cafes to build on their 900+ unit count. They provide a proven franchise opportunity in the growing fast-casual segment for qualified multi-unit investors. While financial requirements are high, the potential advantages of consistent branding, operating procedures and corporate support provide a model for franchise success.

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