It’s not clear how it happened. North Texas’ population was growing, its economy was booming, and residents were becoming increasingly more health-conscious. So somehow, the land known to the rest of the country for steaks, churches, and football, became a smoothie mecca.
In May 2016, Jamba Inc. announced that the Jamba Juice company headquarters planned to relocate from California to Texas. With a Texas Enterprise Fund grant of $800,000 in hand, Jamba Juice took up residence in Frisco a few months later. Its 25,381-square-foot facility, complete with test kitchen, was dubbed the “Whirl’d Support Center.”
Jamba Juice, which has 38 locations in Texas, has joined a bit of a crowd. In Dallas-Fort Worth, it seems like there’s a smoothie shop or juice bar on every corner. (A smoothie is a blend of whole foods. Juice refers to foods’ liquid extractions.) Chains like Smoothie Factory, Smoothie King, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe have locations abound. There also are local brands like Nekter, Roots on Tap, and Buda Juice. Local Press + Brew serves up organic juice flights. The Juice Bar vends bowls, boosts, and “fruice”—frozen pressed juice. The GEM offers a vegan lunch menu to accompany its healthy blends. “In Dallas, people are smart and savvy,” says Leslie Needleman, co-owner of The GEM. “They want to find ways to feel better and look better—and they have the means.”
Jamba Juice, which began refranchising efforts in 2014 and now consists mainly of franchised locations, didn’t choose North Texas for its smoothie-craving culture alone. In an effort to reinvigorate the brand, Jamba Juice sought lower operating costs, a better cost of living for employees, and access to the Dallas-area restaurant talent pool. If you look at a map, you’ll find Jamba Juice locations pockmarked all over California. The U.S. is home to more than 828 Jamba Juice storefronts, and the company operates in six other countries. Although the smoothie game is strong in places like Denver and Phoenix, there’s no denying that Jamba Juice locations are few and far between as you travel east. The move to Texas, Jamba Juice CEO David Pace says, was in part to give the company a centrally located presence. “We’re trying to expand east of the Rockies,” he says. “We’re trying to build a national footprint, as well as an international one.”
This year, Jamba Juice projects that its comparable store sales will grow 2 to 4 percent. Pace, who took over in March 2016, isn’t too worried about Jamba’s numerous competitors. “We’ve got the history and the brand,” he says about the company founded in 1990. “Back then, when people were looking for healthy alternatives, we were it. We’ve maintained … the highest-quality ingredients.”
Recently, Jamba Juice stepped up its game with the launch of a new “Super Blend” smoothie line. Created in collaboration with celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak, these smoothies were designed as nourishing meal replacements—a nod to the health-conscious ideals on which Jamba was founded.
So: even more smoothies.