Can you give something to someone which they already have? Very rarely. And if you can, will it be appreciated? Rarer. That’s what smoothies are about. There is no magic formula, there is no secret ingredient and there is no master distiller. It's all natural. And it’s available all around us. It’s just that most people care to invest in other forms of sweetened and aerated drinks. But ease of availability is an issue as no one, these days, has the time to buy the ingredients and make something healthy. Not ‘no one’, but surely ‘most people’. So that’s why the world needs more smoothie bars. There is enough coffee flying around anyway. So what do you need to start one? Here is some guidance on how to set up a smoothie bar.
The most difficult thing about smoothies is getting the raw material at the right time and fresh. We are not dealing with syrups or beans or anything which can be stored for a long time. We are dealing with ingredients which can’t last over a week. Understanding and securing the supply and logistics is the primary and most important thing to be fixed. With seasons changing, the prices and the quality of fruits fluctuating, we will need to be on top of our game to make it work right. At the end of the day, if a customer is choosing to have your smoothie over an aerated drink or a syrup based milkshake, we better give him the best we can.
Now that you have the ingredients, what do you do with them? Blending is an art, not all fruits blend seamlessly. We will need to understand their body types and keep them in their place. All of these can be done and tested before we actually start the smoothie bar, but we need to have an able beast to take care of the blending. Your blender is the master and never compromise on that. It’s like the engine of a car, no matter how it looks, it matters how it runs. Vitamix ‘quite one’ is a good choice, and Blendtec also has some interesting options. Apart from that, the kitchen is pretty simple. Keep it clean and simple, all stainless steel, make sure all placements are planned appropriately. Every second matter. Maybe not to us, but the customer is not so easy.
How you package, what you sell matters. You are fighting against the giants of marketing. If aerated drinks can sell, why not you? A bad product which has awesome marketing can rule the world, but imagine what is a good product having the right marketing can do? It can disrupt the world. That’s what smoothies can do. So make sure we are in the right space. Those who love you and understand you already do, but those who don’t, require something more than just the product. And if coffee can romanticize itself, why not smoothies, they are more colourful and have more texture, in short, more character. So let the space speak for the product and for being naturally high. Space, where the customers come, should not feel like a café it needs to feel like home.
Now talking about technical requirements, the electrical, the plumbing and other mechanical aspects take care of itself. We are not building a full-fledged kitchen. You really don’t need an architect or a professional, all you need is some time to study the way to build it up and some consultancy at the max. It would not take you more than ten days to figure out everything you need to if you are really at it.
Make sure you have all the licenses. The formalities change from state to state but the basic requirements remain the same. Stay on the right side of the law, it always helps.
Again remember that you are giving something to the customers that they can get themselves and we have no secret. But these days common sense is not so common, and so are smoothies. It’s a good business to be in.
About the Author
Headquartered in Hyderabad, Drunken Monkey was founded by Samrat Reddy in 2016. It has grown exponentially since its launch and the consistent success and growth of the brand can be gauged from its growth from four smoothie bars in Hyderabad in the first year to 64 outlets in 19 Indian cities in 2018.