Healthy Made Delicious

Employee Jordan Anderson prepares a flatbread sandwich at Tropical Smoothie Café. Photos by Rebecca Jones

Employee Jordan Anderson prepares a flatbread sandwich at Tropical Smoothie Café. Photos by Rebecca Jones

Tropical Smoothie Café operates under the “eat better, feel better” motto that has become the standard for conscientious consumers, year round. The quick-service restaurant provides diners with healthier food choices with a tropical twist, while continuing to provide consumers with a variety of high-quality, real-fruit smoothies.

Tropical Smoothie Café is a franchise with a presence in 37 states, with headquarters in Atlanta, GA. But you could say the 14th Tropical Smoothie Café in North Carolina found its way to Southport via New Hampshire.

Husband-and-wife team John and Lori Kablik, after falling in love with the area and vacationing here for years, relocated to Southport from New Hampshire in 2012. As John jokes, they were “done with winter.” The Kabliks had been in the fire-protection business together up north and had plans of rebuilding that business  down here, but something clicked with John as he mulled over his future in his buddy’s café, a New Hampshire Tropical Smoothie.

With many visits as a friend and customer, John knew the food, knew the smoothies, knew the quality—and with his and Lori’s background, had experience in running his own business. John knew the rewards of being one’s own boss, and with a corporate background in a previous endeavor,  thought: “If my buddy can make it in New Hampshire with the heavy winters, then, why not?” John and Lori took the bite. Tropical Smoothie Café, the first in the southeastern North Carolina area, opened in Southport in May of 2013.

mployee David Smothers fixes up a custom smoothie in the kitchen. Photos by Rebecca Jones

mployee David Smothers fixes up a custom smoothie in the kitchen. Photos by Rebecca Jones

Tropical Smoothie Café, like the name suggests, is warm and inviting. Bamboo wallpaper, large replica palm-frond fans, bright tile, and colorful paintings depicting surf boards, bikes and tiki huts lend to the island feel.

Awards and certificates on the walls belie the young start date. Southport’s Tropical Smoothie Café already conveys a sense of community, actively participating in local school and team fundraisers and sponsorships. Several “Golden Pineapple” certificates, recognizing superior customer experience from The Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, are proudly displayed, along with the stellar 100 rating from the Brunswick County Health Department.

High  standards  are a must to making the franchise work. John, with genuine enthusiasm, describes the smoothie and food menu, including the promotions for the new year. “Everything is made fresh to order,” he emphasizes, “cut, sliced, diced, every morning.”

In January and February, the store is introducing a detox version of the “hands down-most popular smoothie,” John explains. “The Island Green Smoothie, with all real fruits and vegetables, spinach, kale, banana, mango and pineapple, will include ginger for the low-calorie detox version.”

In addition, John shares that the  Totally Green smoothie is back, made with spinach, kale, celery, green apple, and kiwi.

The Caribbean Luau flatbread from Tropical Smoothie Café is made with chicken, low-fat mozzarella cheese, pineapple, romaine lettuce, and Jamaican jerk sauce. Photo by Rebecca Jones

The Caribbean Luau flatbread from Tropical Smoothie Café is made with chicken, low-fat mozzarella cheese, pineapple, romaine lettuce, and Jamaican jerk sauce. Photo by Rebecca Jones

Feeling under the weather from all the Holiday hubbub? The Immune Smoothie can provide a boost with banana, orange juice, real oranges and a vitamin C pack. And if eating healthy is one of your new year’s resolutions, the Thai Chicken Salad is a full salad with all fresh-cut ingredients, including romaine, field greens, chicken, wontons, sesame seeds, carrots and Thai peanut dressing, weighing in at only 281 calories.

Flatbreads and sandwich wraps are available starting at 422 calories. Those who like spice should try the Caribbean Luau made with chicken, low-fat mozzarella, pineapple, romaine, and Jamaican jerk sauce on a toasted flatbread. The menu also has clearly marked vegetarian options, including Beyond Meat Chicken, which are soy-based, chicken-free strips.

Tropical Smoothie Café provides a health and nutrition guide both in-house and online. The guide breaks down in an easy-to-read table the calories,  the fat,  and the vegetarian and gluten-free items and substitutes. “We want to make it as transparent for the customers as possible,” stresses Kablik, “giving the customer choices.”

In January, diners can choose the returning Mediterranean flatbreads like the Feisty Feta Chicken, or one of the wraps like the Hummus Veggie, or the Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad sandwich.

Choices abound for the sides, too: chips, fruit or fresh baked cookies, like Chocolate Chunk, Snickerdoodle or White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. Or one could select a combination, either a half-sandwich and smoothie, half-sandwich and salad, or a half-sandwich and soup combo. Soup is offered October through February, and the ever-popular broccoli and cheese is the Thursday feature.

With the freshly made smoothies, customers can go low-fat, supercharged with nutrition, or indulgent (try the Peanut Butter Cup: peanut butter, banana and Ghirardelli chocolate).

Tropical Smoothie Café also serves an all-day breakfast menu, including the Early Bird wrap, which features eggs, chicken, pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, and chipotle mayo in a toasted flour tortilla. There’s a kid’s menu, too, serving up kid-size smoothies and food options. In addition, Tropical Smoothie Café’s catering menu is ideal for luncheons, business meetings and special events.

Open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (7 p.m. on Sundays), Tropical Smoothie Café offers Wi-Fi for its customers, indoor and outdoor (even in the winter—as North Carolina’s winters are much milder than New Hampshire’s!).

For more information about Tropical Smoothie Café, contact (910) 363-4908 or visit www.tropicalsmoothie.com. Stop by the restaurant in the Walmart plaza at 1671 N. Howe St., unit #1A

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