Healthy franchise owner takes hands-on approach to business

Owner of Tallahassee Robeks healthy franchise loves the opportunity to interact with guests and help them live healthier lives

Aquenda Thornton introduced the Robeks healthy franchise brand to guests in Tallahassee nearly two years ago, and she loves the opportunity to work hands-on in the business, interact with her guests and have a direct impact on her community’s healthy habits. Read on to learn more about her journey with Robeks.

Tallahassee Robeks franchise owner Aquenda Thornton poses in her store with a basket of cucumbers, bananas, lemons and apples.
Tallahassee Robeks franchise owner Aquenda Thornton

How long have you been a Robeks franchisee?

Just coming up on almost two years.

What was it that brought you to Robeks?

I was a stay-at-home mom and I was looking for something to open up in my community that was actually a healthy alternative. I saw a Robeks in Miami and we talked to the franchisee there and discussed some things. Because we have a Tropical Smoothie and Jamba Juice here, I wanted to bring something different here to Tallahassee.

What specifically about Robeks appealed to you? What was it that set it apart from Tropical Smoothie and Jamba Juice?

Tropical Smoothie is here throughout Tallahassee, and it’s a small town, so we wanted to have some competition here. Things like juicing, smoothie bowls and açaí bowls help us stand out; that’s different from Smoothie King and Tropical Smoothie Cafe. There’s a smaller mom-and-pop shop that has some bowls, but it’s the açaí bowls and juicing that really set us apart from the rest of the competition.

What does your typical day kind of look like?

I’m hands-on at my store, so I put in my share of time. I’ve found that my guests want to see me here. My day-to-day is dropping my kids off at school, coming here, opening up the store, and I’m pretty much here at the store until evening. I’m here helping my guests and helping to build a great foundation in my store.

How do you help emphasize the importance of nutrition to the whole family?

Because it’s a new brand here in Tallahassee, people are starting to catch on to it. Once they’re in here and they’re bringing the kids, we try to help the whole family with their nutrition and reach out to kids by providing coupons and rewarding them for report cards. We reach out to help provide a healthy alternative to teens. I was an athlete in college, so I know that you want to put in something to refuel your body before and after a game or training, so we have a healthy alternative for them. We really reach out to the schools in that way.

What do your guests like most about Robeks compared to the competition?

We’re still building the brand here. Other smoothie concepts have been here for so long that we’re still really trying to get people to understand what Robeks is about and what we can provide for them, and one thing a lot of them do ask is, “What separates you guys? What makes you different?”

We have juice and we have bowls, but we also really emphasize whole, healthy ingredients. It’s not healthy to add sugar; I don’t like when other companies add a bunch of sugar in their smoothies. We don’t add any sugar to our products. We do use dairy products, non-fat yogurt and sherbet, but even if you don’t want that, you can have your smoothie with fruit and veggies and our juices are straight-up juice, 100% fresh fruits and vegetables.

An overhead shot of a counter in a Robeks store with various fruits and vegetables for guests to choose for their smoothie or juice.
Guests feel good after living healthy with a fresh juice or smoothie from Robeks.

How do you think the store design helps draw in guests?

Our design looks sleek and more streamlined than our competitors. When they walk in, we’ve got all these designs of the food on the walls, they know they’re walking into something healthy. The one thing a lot of people say is the store always smells good. I try to juice something that smells good in the morning, so that the store has that smell like an orange or lemon or ginger.

To me, what matters isn’t what the store looks like on the outside, but what your guests are going to put in their bodies. The product is more important. That’s what really matters: not dressing it up on the outside, it’s what you’re putting in on the inside.

What do you like most about owning your own Robeks healthy franchise?

I would say the thing that really makes it fun right now is being able to interact with and build relationships with my guests, and to help them with their nutrition. I’m no expert in it, but when my customers look at the menu for answers, I try my best to do a lot of studying on different veggies so that I can provide them with the best information and alternatives for the concerns or health issues they may have.

I just like the fact that people feel like they’re leaving here with something healthy that they feel good about. They come in and they feel good about what they’re getting. We’re just glad that we’re able to provide the community with a healthier alternative.

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