Friends meeting up at a smoothie bar.
March 20, 2024

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Opening a smoothie bar can be a fun and profitable venture for business owners interested in expanding into the ever-growing health food and beverage industry. Smoothies and nutrient-rich shakes are increasingly popular, with consumers looking for convenient and tasty ways to get more fruits, vegetables, and nutritional supplements into their diets.

For those considering opening a smoothie bar, we’re breaking down seven key principles for running a successful operation that will keep you and your customers satisfied for the long-term.

What Types of Locations Benefit From Smoothie Bars?

Before we dive into best practices for starting and running a successful smoothie bar, it’s important to determine how your specific location would benefit from opening one. Smoothie bars are adaptable and thus can make a positive impact on a variety of communities by addressing specific demands and contributing to healthier lifestyles.

Specific businesses that benefit greatly from smoothie bars include:

Fitness Facilities

  • Drive new memberships and retention by offering a popular post-workout nutrient boost
  • Additional revenue stream and profit center
  • Provide protein shakes and supplements to support customer training goals
  • Promote your brand's commitment to health and wellness

Colleges & Universities

  • Meet student demand for quick, nutritious meals and snacks on the go
  • Appeal to health-conscious millennials and Gen Z demographics
  • Brand alignment with student wellness initiatives
  • Late-night, wholesome energy boost for studying students

Country Clubs

  • Added amenity and differentiator to attract and retain members
  • Refreshing poolside and golf course refreshments
  • Alcohol-free socializing and networking option
  • Promote healthy lifestyles for families and adults

Nutrition & Supplement Shops

  • Spotlight your brand's products through customized smoothies
  • Upsell additional vitamins, supplements and health foods
  • Offer samples to educate customers on nutrition
  • Position your business as a wellness destination

Grocery Stores

  • Meet consumer demand for grab-and-go, natural foods
  • Promote your brand's focus on fresh, organic produce
  • Drive additional foot traffic and impulse purchases
  • Lure customers away from strict "smoothie shop" competition

Stand-Alone Shops


  • Complement coffee with a non-caffeinated, fruity option
  • Appeal to health-focused patrons
  • Additional high profit-margin menu item
  • Brand differentiation from pure coffeehouses


  • Appeal to diners looking for lighter, healthier fare
  • Creative non-alcoholic pairings with menus
  • Daytime business driver during off-peak hours
  • High-margin addition to beverage program


  • Capitalize on mall traffic searching for quick bites
  • Differentiator from common food court chains
  • Healthy convenience for shoppers taking a break
  • Avoid competition from anchor restaurants/cafes

Smoothies at a smoothie bar

7 Principles for Starting and Running A Successful Smoothie Bar

Opening a smoothie and shake bar can be a rewarding business venture, but it also takes careful planning and execution to create a thriving operation. From initial costs to ongoing marketing, there are several key factors to consider when starting and running your smoothie bar. 

1. Customized Solutions

At the heart of every successful Shake & Smoothie Bar lies a deep understanding of its unique clientele and their preferences. PFC recognizes this fundamental truth and places a premium on offering customized solutions tailored to the specific needs and desires of each client. 

By taking the time to listen and collaborate, we ensure that every aspect of your bar–from your menu offerings to your design elements – is carefully curated to resonate with your target audience. Our personalized approach will not only set you apart from its competitors but also foster a strong sense of loyalty among your customers who will feel seen and valued.

For locations with existing smoothie bars, we work to optimize your offerings by:

  • Examining your customer base
  • Reviewing menu selections
  • Evaluating the cost of goods
  • Rethinking your marketing
  • Understanding your approach and management style 
  • Freshening up your look
  • Refining your message
  • Improving your product selection 

By working one-on-one to review your specific challenges and expectations, we develop a clear plan and timeline to make your goals a reality.

2. Design & Development

The design and layout of a shake and smoothie bar are pivotal factors that can make or break its success. Studies show that cafés and beverage shops serve as key spaces for connection and coworking in an increasingly remote world. By creating an inviting atmosphere, your smoothie bar can build community by fostering relationships and combating isolation. 

We understand this critical importance, which is why we employ a meticulous approach to creating spaces that are both functional and inviting for your customers. 

Design and development can differ depending on the existing space. It’s important to first answer the following questions in order to determine what will best suit your needs:

  • Are you building a new fitness facility and want to include a shake and smoothie bar? 
  • Are you adding a shake and smoothie bar to an existing fitness facility?
  • Are you taking over an existing space?
  • Are you opening a stand-alone store dedicated to shakes and smoothies?

At PFC, our experts take the guesswork out of the design and construction process, so you can sit back and relax while we efficiently and carefully design your space. Our team of in-house facility designers, specializing in food service, can even work with your architect to appropriately design and construct the space, saving you money downstream.

To help you achieve your desired ambiance, Performance Food Centers delivers design and construction plans that provide a range of end-to-end solutions, including custom layout design, equipment (like blenders and refrigerators), construction and build-out, permitting, marketing support, menu creation, on-site training, and ongoing assistance. 

Through careful space planning and ergonomic considerations, PFC optimizes the layout of each bar to enhance operational efficiency and customer flow. Whether it's maximizing counter space for blending stations or creating cozy seating areas for patrons to linger, every aspect of the design is thoughtfully crafted to elevate the overall experience.

Finally, if you’re limited in space or want to utilize a seasonal location, we have a complete NSF-approved mobile cart. We can also custom-design a Kiosk to fit any space or situation.

A group of people enjoying smoothies outside.

3. Equipment & Millwork

Behind every perfectly blended shake or smoothie lies a suite of high-quality equipment and millwork. PFC has established itself as a trusted partner in this regard, offering a comprehensive range of top-of-the-line products sourced from leading manufacturers. From commercial-grade blenders to custom millwork solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped with the tools they need to deliver exceptional products consistently. 

Some of our equipment partners include:

  • 3M
  • Advance Tabco
  • Atlas Metal
  • Beverage Air
  • Blend-Tec
  • Bunn-O-Matic
  • Cambro
  • Continental
  • Dispense-Rite
  • Everpure
  • Federal
  • Fetco
  • Fisher
  • Glastender
  • Jackson
  • Krowne Metal
  • Manitowac ICE
  • Moyer Diebel
  • Nuova Simonelli
  • Nutrifaster
  • Robot Coupe
  • San Jamar
  • Structural Concepts
  • T&S Brass
  • True
  • Turbo Air
  • Zumex - Juicers

By prioritizing quality and reliability in our equipment offerings, we empower you to focus on what you do best: creating delicious and nutritious offerings that keep customers coming back for more.

4. Inspirational & Educational Marketing

In today's crowded marketplace, effective educational-based marketing is essential for capturing the attention of consumers and driving foot traffic to a shake and smoothie bar. Our internal marketing team understands the power of storytelling and employs a multi-faceted approach to create inspirational and educational campaigns that resonate with your target audience. 

From eye-catching signage to custom-designed menus (print or digital), our marketing strategy allows you to inspire your customers while also attracting them to your bar. Our marketing initiatives are designed to evoke emotion and spark curiosity, enticing customers to step inside and discover the offerings. 

Additionally, we provide you with educational materials that will empower your customers to make informed choices about their nutrition, positioning the bar as a trusted source of health and wellness information. We help break down the complexities of nutrition into easy-to-understand messages designed to efficiently teach your customers about the delicious, natural, whole-food world that you’ll offer them.

Two people enjoying smoothies at the gym.

5. Natural, Whole-Foods Distribution

At PFC, our ingredients and recipes will nourish your customers while satisfying their smoothie cravings. We've developed an innovative system that incorporates clean, shelf-stable liquids, supplements, and freeze-dried, nutrient-dense, fruits and vegetables. This advancement not only eliminates the need for freezers but also significantly reduces waste, reflecting our commitment to sustainability. 

The process of Freeze Drying, a Cold Vacuum process we employ, preserves the integrity of fruits and vegetables by removing only the water. This meticulous technique ensures that the nutrient density and enzymatic vitality of the raw produce remain fully intact. The resulting product is ideal for crafting delicious and nutritious beverages.

The quality of ingredients used in shake and smoothie bars is paramount to their success. PFC recognizes the importance of sourcing natural, minimally processed foods and beverages that meet the highest standards of quality and freshness. Through our extensive network of suppliers and distributors, we ensure that clients have access to a wide range of premium ingredients that enable them to create delicious and nutritious offerings. By prioritizing transparency and sustainability in our sourcing practices, we help our clients build trust with their customers and differentiate themselves in the market.

6. On-Site & Virtual Training

Establishing a successful smoothie and shake bar extends beyond hiring peppy individuals with top-notch customer service skills. You also must incorporate a comprehensive training regimen that prioritizes safety, efficiency, and a strong team bond. Training your staff properly and thoughtfully forms the backbone of a safe and efficient operation. Emphasizing quality control expectations is crucial to delivering consistently exceptional products to your customers.

Moreover, staff training plays a pivotal role in creating a cohesive and coordinated team. When team members are well-versed in their roles, understand quality expectations, and are trained to handle various scenarios, your operational efficiency significantly improves, contributing to a positive customer experience that fosters customer loyalty and repeat business.

Investing in staff education and training is essential for maintaining consistency and quality in your bar’s operations. PFC offers comprehensive on-site and virtual training programs that equip employees with the knowledge and skills they need to excel in their roles. Whether it's mastering the art of shake preparation or learning best practices for customer service, PFC's training initiatives are designed to empower staff members to deliver exceptional experiences to every customer. By providing hands-on instruction and informative resources, we help our clients build strong, knowledgeable teams that drive business success.

7. Programs & Beyond

In addition to our core services, PFC offers a range of supplemental programs and resources designed to help shake and smoothie bar owners maximize their success. From sales and marketing programs to promotional initiatives and ongoing support, PFC's comprehensive offerings provide you with the tools you need to thrive in a competitive market. 

Whether it's launching a new product line, implementing a loyalty program, or hosting special events, our programs are designed to drive customer engagement, boost sales, and enhance brand loyalty. By partnering with PFC, you gain access to a wealth of expertise and support that helps you achieve your business goals and realize your full potential in the industry.

Take The First Step: Contact Performance Food Centers Today

Establishing practical partnerships is crucial for a business’s success. Teaming up with an experienced smoothie and shake bar provider like Performance Food Centers can make the process of running a bar more straightforward and efficient. With on-site training and dedicated ongoing support, your business can continue to grow.

Performance Food Centers handles the entire smoothie and shake bar process from concept to grand opening, so you can start blending profitable, delicious smoothies. Our commitment to providing exceptional products is deeply rooted in our love for whole foods. We seek to simplify the process and set you up for success. With proven formulas and thousands of satisfied customers, we have the ingredients you need to refresh your business with an in-demand smoothie bar.

Contact us today to learn how you can get started.


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