- Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened its first double drive-thru in Oklahoma City on Thursday, the company said in a press release.
- Franchisee Rohit Patel of Hero Hospitality operates the cafe, his 14th with the brand, with a standard drive-thru lane and one for mobile, third-party delivery and curbside order pickup.
- Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened 35 new cafes in the third quarter. The company has signed 186 franchises agreements so far this year and opened 119 new units.
The addition of a double drive-thru restaurant to Tropical Smoothie could help drive franchising momentum for the brand. Existing franchisees are also behind 70% of the company’s total cafe openings this year, and have helped increase its year-to-date opening by 25% compared to the first three quarters of 2021.
In 2021, the company opened its 1,000th location and reported same-store sales growth of 22%. Last year, digital sales made up 76% of the company’s sales growth, after it introduced customizable online and mobile ordering.
The double drive-thru model is about 1,140 square feet with a small dining room, a Tropical Smoothie told Restaurant Dive via email. By contrast, a standard Tropical Smoothie Cafe ranges from 1,200 to 1,900 square feet for a traditional unit, be that an end cap, in-line store or free-standing unit. The smaller design may help meet growing demand for digital orders and boost guest convenience, Patel said.
The company is testing the double drive-thru in Oklahoma City so the brand can see how it performs in a market where Tropical Smoothie is well-established through traditional development, the spokesperson said. The double drive-thru can also be built on as little as a quarter of an acre of land if developed in front of a big box store with a shared parking lot, and on a half acre on freestanding lots in locations where other brands may be unable build their concepts, the company said.
Tropical Smoothie said it will continue to look for more opportunities to develop double drive-thrus nationwide.
Several other chains have been introducing double drive-thru or drive-thru-only models, including Schlotsky’s, Panera, Jack in the Box and Arby’s as a way to speed up pickup for digital orders, or increase drive-thru throughput.