Tamporellos open Smoothie King in Morgan City
MORGAN CITY — A Smoothie King has been open since May 6 at 1141 Victor II Boulevard, Morgan City, owned by Nick and Jill Tamporello, an announcement from Smoothie King Franchises Inc. stated.
Richard Leveille, Smoothie King vice president of business development, said, “Smoothie King is in an aggressive growth phase.”
Leveille added, “Over the next five years the brand plans to open 1,000 locations — with a mix of corporate and franchise stores. The new Morgan City location is an integral part in meeting this goal and we are thrilled to bring its health and wellness mission to this community.”
More than 40 years ago, Steve Kuhnau’s fascination with nutrition started when he was a teenager back in the 1960s, the news release stated.
“Kuhnau struggled with food allergies,” the news release stated. “Not only was he allergic to dairy, chocolate, peanut butter, and wheat, Steve was also hypoglycemic. He was focused on finding a high-protein drink that was fruit-based, not dairy. To that end, Kuhnau began blending fresh fruits, proteins, vitamins, and mineral supplements, eventually developing the first nutritional smoothie in 1967.”
Kuhnau learned more about nutrition and the effect of diet on body tissue while stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he was a nurse at Brooks General Hospital, the news release stated. Later in 1973, Kuhnau opened Town & Country Health Foods in Kenner where he sold what was to be the first Smoothie King smoothie, it stated.
It didn’t take long for Kuhnau and his wife and business partner, Cindy, to realize how popular their smoothies were, the news release stated. The Kuhnaus’ incorporated the smoothie into the company name and on May 5, 1987, Smoothie King was trademarked and incorporated, it stated.
Sixteen years after Kuhnau sold his first smoothies, he began to franchise Smoothie King and opened the first Smoothie King franchise on Baronne Street in New Orleans, the news release stated.
In July of 2012, a company called SK USA Inc., headed by CEO Wan Kim with backing from Standard Chartered Private Equity and National Pension service of the Republic of Korea, bought Smoothie King from Kuhnau, the news release stated.
“Steve knew he was passing the company over to someone who shared his passion for the Smoothie King brand,” the news release stated. “Something that drew Wan to Smoothie King all those years ago was what the company stood for: “A healthy alternative to fast food.”
Kim’s first experience with Smoothie King was while studying at the University of California at Irvine in 2001, the news release stated. “Wan was immediately impressed with the high quality/healthy products and by Smoothie King’s overall approach to health and wellness. In 2003, after moving back to Seoul, Korea, Kim opened the first Smoothie King store outside of the United States. He found that Koreans loved what Smoothie King had to offer as much as he did. Kim proceeded to grow the Smoothie King brand in South Korea to currently more than 130 locations. Kuhnau will remain with the company and serve as a consultant and brand ambassador representing Smoothie King domestically and internationally as Smoothie King’s original founder and passionate advocate for health and wellness.”
In January, Tom O’Keefe became the new president and chief operating officer of SK USA Inc., the news release stated. O’Keefe, who has worked with such brands as Popeye’s, Church’s Chicken, Ruth’s Hospitality Group and Anytime Fitness, said he was attracted to the Smoothie King position after the company’s recent purchase by Kim, the news release stated.
“Wan is the master franchisee for South Korea,” O’Keefe explained. “He’s been in the business for 10 years.”
The company currently has 509 domestic and 117 international stores, with 115 of the latter in South Korea, one in Singapore and one in the Cayman Islands, the news release stated.
“Smoothie King’s healthful positioning is positive. I’m bullish on the concept,” O’Keefe said. “I think we have a terrific product. Our consumers and our focus groups continue to tell us that.”
Morgan City franchisees Nick and Jill Tamporello are eager to promote the brand and be part of an original Louisiana franchise, the news release stated.
“We are excited to expand Smoothie King’s presence in the Morgan City region,” the Tamporellos said.
“Offering nutritious, delicious, on-the go products is key to helping our community achieve a healthier way of life. We are honored to be a part of the brand’s expansion plan.”
This year alone Smoothie King has experienced double-digit growth, and is ranked No. 1 by Entrepreneur magazine in the juice bar category for the 19th year and No. 121 overall on the 2012 Franchise 500 list, the news release stated.