Meet Planet Smoothie’s New Leesburg, Va., Franchise Owners
Serial entrepreneurs find a lot to like in a business model that’s built around simple operations, a high-quality product and strong consumer engagement
After years of successful operations in different food-oriented businesses, including one Planet Smoothie™ franchise in National Harbor, Maryland, entrepreneurs Junius Stewart and Bob Lawinger are about to open a second Planet Smoothie location in Leesburg, Virginia. Here’s why Lawinger is high on the Planet Smoothie concept and sees more growth ahead.
What were you doing before you became a Planet Smoothie franchise owner?
I started my first winning business in 1990, Uncle Bob’s Fudge Kitchen Inc. (UBFK), in Annapolis, Maryland, which I still own and operate today. I also have added a second location on the Eastern Shore. I like to say I have a high-school diploma because I cheated my senior year. I was a struggling student, to say the least. I always felt I could see a simpler answer. So I started UBFK in 1990, and I was right! I have had several businesses since then, and still own/operate about a half dozen.
How did you connect and begin with Planet Smoothie?
I opened our first Planet Smoothie in National Harbor, Maryland, with my friend Jay. Leesburg is our second location.
The decision to own Planet Smoothie has a story to it. Someone suggested a smoothie concept in a location that Jay and I were bidding on, because there was going to be room for something besides what we had in mind. We had a few ideas, so we began speaking with different franchise brands. Jay was sick when we were meeting Planet Smoothie for our discovery day, and said he felt better after a “smoothie break.” We toured some other concepts in DC and Maryland, but we kept coming back to the fact that we liked the Planet Smoothie product — plus, it made Jay feel better! — so bingo! Planet Smoothie was the choice for us.
Why have you decided to expand with Planet Smoothie?
At National Harbor, Maryland, we are in an outlet center. We see everyone from locals to tourists to serious shoppers, and we do well. I’ve been doing this awhile, long enough to know that I don’t know it all by a long shot, and if I need something, I believe I can get it from the Kahala team. We are looking forward to our new location and growing our business there.
Planet Smoothie is a smoothie franchise that sets itself apart by offering great-tasting smoothies that use healthier, natural ingredients. In a side-by-side comparison, our smoothies generally have less sugar and fewer calories — a big competitive advantage as Americans actively seek out healthier options. Planet Smoothie is led by a veteran franchise team and dedicated brand support team as part of the Kahala Brands™ family.