Hot Stuff

.Food?

Hot Business: Juice Bars

Still time-pressed, nutrition-needy and savoring the self-love they achieve by opting for a fresh fruit-blended drink over a bucket of fat-dripping fries, Americans' affinity for smoothies hasn't waned since the healthy libations started getting widespread attention in 1994. With juice bar industry sales jumping to more than $647 million a year, it's clear the smoothie isn't just a fad but rather a time-tested favorite.

Although soothsayers suggest one or two major chains may eventually dominate the market, the potential for success still abounds, particularly if you look to the sea of untapped markets (think anywhere but the West Coast), augmented menus (adding food items such as baked potatoes, soup, wraps and bread), and the concept of co-branding with other retailers.

Such tactics have helped Joe Donnini, 29, president and co-founder of Juice CaBana, stay abreast of his competition. "There was a gap we thought we could fill by bringing the product to the East Coast," says Donnini. He presently has two stores in Pennsylvania and one in Florida. By looking to unsaturated territory; adding trail mix to the juice bars; and placing sister company CopaCaTana, a full-service tanning salon, right next door to two Juice CaBana locations, the two-year-old company should earn more than $1.7 million by year-end and is currently offering franchise opportunities.

"Society is becoming more aware of dietary and nutritional values, and lives are becoming more and more rushed," says Donnini. "There seems to be a connection between putting both the convenience factor and the health factor into a cup."

For more "juicy" information, visit www.juicecabana.com, www.juicegallery.com, http://www.jambajuice.com, and www.smoothieking.com

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This article was originally published in the December 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Hot Stuff.

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