Health-focused smoothie chain Robeks is stretching its reach into nontraditional locations with the opening of a franchised unit within One Love Yoga and Boutique in Kent, Ohio.

The brand with about 110 smoothie stores in the United States will share the first floor with the studio’s boutique that sells eco-friendly clothing. One Love Yoga’s owner, Tim Huth, approached Robeks about having his studio house a franchised location, which will be operated by current Robeks franchisee Anne Randles, who has another smoothie shop in Stow, Ohio.

“We’re looking at unique opportunities in general, and that’s going to come from the challenge with getting traditional placements for real estate around the country,” said Mike Reynolds, chief development officer for Los Angeles-based Robeks.

Currently the chain only has about five locations considered to be nontraditional in sports arenas and college campuses. Yet Robeks indicated that the number of on-site units and franchise locations overall could soon grow dramatically, as the brand’s franchise inquiries have risen nearly twenty-fold since the start of 2012.

“We want to partner with organizations in locations [that fit] the types of products we offer,” said chief marketing officer Chad Bailey, “and that will continue to have our all-natural foundation, built upon premium ingredients that help add life and vigor to people’s lives.”

He added that nutrition plays as large a role in the brand’s menu development as taste does. For example, Robeks was among the first brands to offer green smoothies or raw smoothies made with fresh kale and the first to launch a Greek-yogurt smoothie. The chain just wrapped up a limited-time smoothie made from almond milk and dates.

Robeks may explore other opportunities similar to Jamba Juice’s institutional model in schools, though Reynolds said the brand might be more selective in the kinds of private universities or businesses where it could open a location and have the leeway to educate consumers about Robeks’ differentiation around its healthful foundation.

A conceivable health club partner for Robeks locations might be a higher-end chain like Spectrum Clubs, as opposed to a mass-market brand like 24-Hour Fitness, he said.

That conservative expansion process would resemble how Robeks tries to expand its menu prudently, he noted. “We’re not a trend grabber; we try to be a trendsetter,” Reynolds said. “Our price point is a little bit higher than some of our competitors, so people’s expectations are already set when they enter our store.”

Robeks has three international stores, and its domestic units trade in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN