Red Mango Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies is testing new prototypes offering sandwiches, salads, wraps, juices and smoothies that are co-branded with a chain that the brand’s parent company acquired earlier this fall.
The rights for North and South America to Smoothie Factory, a 37-unit chain based in Dallas that has a following among amateur performance athletes such as cyclists and marathon runners, were recently acquired by Smoothie Holdings, LLC., a Texas company formed by an affiliate of Red Mango FC, LLC, parent of the 209-unit frozen yogurt chain, according to Red Mango vice president of franchising Jim Notarnicola.
“We’re just taking over the operations now,” he said, adding that the newly acquired chain has more sophisticated smoothie recipes, as well as protein supplements and other nutritional boosts appreciated by some athletes.
Over the past eight weeks he said Red Mango locations in the New York communities of Huntington, Stonybrook, Shirley and North Babylon, all on Long Island, have started offering sandwiches and salads. The Shirley and North Babylon locations also have introduced Smoothie Factory-branded smoothies as well as juices.
The Shirley location is a completely co-branded unit, while the North Babylon Red Mango unit has the smoothies and juices branded on the menu as being from Smoothie Factory, Notarnicola said.
All of the salads, wraps and flatbreads are made to order and have fewer than 500 calories. Grab-and-go items such as protein bars also are available at those four locations.
Among the warm flatbreads available is a $3.95, 380-calorie Southwest Chicken sandwich, made with grilled chicken breast, cheese, corn, black beans and Memphis barbecue sauce. Salads include the $5.95, 345-calorie Strawberry Fields, made of spring greens, grilled chicken breast, strawberries, almonds, blue cheese and strawberry balsamic dressing. The artisan wraps, served at room temperature, include 390-calorie Spicy Thai Chicken made with grilled chicken breast, cheese, mango and pineapple with coconut dressing for $4.95.
“They’re meeting or exceeding our expectations,” Notarnicola said of the new items. “We’re still tweaking the recipes and getting customer feedback.”
He added that customers were responding well to the idea of the treat-based chain offering more meal-like items. “As long as it’s tasty and light and healthy, they’re happy to have it there,” he said, adding that the ingredients of the chain’s signature fruit bar, normally used to top frozen yogurt, have been incorporated into the sandwich and salad recipes.
Notarnicola said that if the tests are successful, existing locations could be retrofitted with additional preparation and storage equipment, as well as heating equipment for the flatbreads for a “modest cost,” although the specific cost had not yet been determined.
Notarnicola said the addition of Smoothie Factory recipes could be a great boost to smoothie sales, since their recipes are more sophisticated and have more nutritional enhancements.
He said Red Mango had four smoothies when the chain started in 2007 and expanded to 18 last year. The test units currently offer about 25.