On the heels of celebrating the opening of our 1,400th location, Wan Kim sat down with QSR Magazine to reflect on the brand’s 10-year transformation. In the interview, Wan shares more on his vision to evolve Smoothie King over the last several years, which has included a challenging menu evolution to better provide convenient, purposeful smoothie blends. Additionally, Wan has been focused on managing rapid growth and innovation in the evolving food and beverage segment and looking ahead to future expansion in key markets across the country.
Prior to becoming Smoothie King’s CEO, Wan opened the first international Smoothie King store in South Korea in 2003 and quickly grew his franchise footprint to 120 stores throughout the country. Nearly 10 years later, Wan purchased Smoothie King from founders Steve and Cindy Kuhnau, when the brand had 600 units operating in 32 states, the Caymans, and South Korea. Now, more than a decade later, much has changed under Wan’s leadership.
Without risk, there is no reward and Wan understands this. As such, Wan led the menu transformation and swapped ingredients with healthier options, free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, using what Wan calls the “No No List”.
When discussing this transition with QSR, Wan says, “it was a difficult project for us. So many people who used to come to us because of the sugar were like, ‘why are you making all these changes?’ And a lot of people who wanted healthier options just thought Smoothie King was a sugar bomb. It took a long time to convince more people to come in.”
Wan’s vision – and risk – is paying dividends. With guests becoming more aware of their diet, Smoothie King’s menu evolution has greatly benefitted the brand and authentically connected with the needs of today’s consumer.
“We draw a different type of crowd. When you’re working out, doing yoga or Pilates, where do you go after that? You need certain levels of proteins and nutrients that juice cannot give you after your workout, otherwise it will take more time to repair your body,” said Wan. “By reducing sugar in many of our smoothies, we are more aligned than ever with our company vision to become an integral part of guests fitness journey.”
In addition to our menu evolution, Smoothie King is growing across the country. In 2022, we’ve signed 145 new development deals to solidify the brand’s expansion. We’ve expanded in cities including Baltimore, Washington D.C., Cleveland, Cincinnati, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Charlotte and others. Smoothie King also recently announced a drive-thru-only model; a smaller footprint concept that aligns with on-the-go customer needs. The prototype stands at approximately 800 square feet and features a traditional drive-thru lane on one side of the building, with a lane dedicated to online ordering and third-party delivery on the other.
Our President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Harmon has also been instrumental in making our brand more accessible. In the QSR feature, Dan mentions “today’s guest is looking for convenience, and this new model will optimize off-premise channels to meet the needs of our on-the-go guests, best support franchisees, and drive revenue.”
Read more on Smoothie King’s brand evolution and growth in QSR Magazine.
We are always seeking experienced operators interested in growing their portfolio with a brand committed to serving product that inspire people to live a healthy and active lifestyle. For more information about franchise opportunities with Smoothie King, please visit www.smoothiekingfranchise.com.