by Karen Mead-Elford, staff writer
DEBBIE LEMIEUX-KING, owner of the Owosso Tropical Smoothie Café, stands at the front of her restaurant on E. M-21 on Monday, July 18. (Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)
“Our company motto is ‘eat better, feel better,’” stated Debbie Lemieux-King who owns the Owosso Tropical Smoothie Café on E. M-21 in front of Walmart. In fact, Debbie owns four Tropical Smoothie Café franchises; Owosso, Ann Arbor, Grand Blanc and Livonia. She is also the Area Developer for the company in Michigan. There are currently 41 Tropical Smoothie locations in the state and her current ambition is to see 50 by the end of 2016.
The Owosso business opened two years ago and currently has fifteen employees. The restaurant has an extensive menu including flatbreads, wraps, sandwiches, salads and, of course, numerous smoothies. There is a kids menu, too. The staff is cautious about food allergies and sensitivities so be sure to inform them of any dietary concerns. Many of the menu items are vegetarian or gluten-friendly. A large number of the smoothies offered are under 500 calories as are some of the food options such as the Thai Chicken Salad or the Chicken Pesto Flatbread.
“Our goals are to offer healthier stuff to ultimately help people feel better, exercise more, be happier,” Debbie said. Fresh, quality, natural ingredients that taste good are a staple of the business. “I plan on opening more restaurants personally and be an even bigger part of the community,” she continued.
Tropical Smoothie Café offers the number one selling smoothie in the nation. It is called the Island Green and it includes the equivalent of five servings of fruits and vegetables. Spinach, kale, pineapple, mango, and banana are combined to create the beverage.
Another popular smoothie is the Chia Banana Boost that is composed of roasted bananas, almonds, chia seeds, oats, cinnamon, dates, and coconut.
“We use to tend to mostly 18-34 year old women. Now, we have customers of all walks. A lot more guys are coming in for the protein smoothies. Everybody is looking to be healthy,” Debbie said in discussing the changes she has witnessed over the past few years.
In-house fundraising efforts are available at the establishment. Generally, 15 percent is donated during a three-hour block of time.
“We keep coming up with new recipes, new foods. The menu is constantly changing though we keep a few, classic items,” she shared. Some of the classic smoothies are the Strawberry Limeade; made simply from strawberries and lime; the Mango Magic, created from mango, pineapple and non-fat yogurt, and the Blueberry Bliss, combining blueberries, strawberries and bananas.