By Carolyn Marnon – Bringing it’s relaxed coastal atmosphere to downtown Wayne, Tropical Smoothie Café opened August 9 in the Rite Aid plaza at the corner of Wayne Rd. and E. Michigan Ave (35131 E. Michigan Ave.)
If you aren’t familiar with Tropical Smoothie Café, the franchise promotes eating better to feel better. The menu features toasted flatbreads, pressed sandwiches, signature wraps and bowls, and quesadillas. You can order classic smoothies and superfood smoothies (such as an Island Green made of spinach, kale, mango, pineapple and banana or the fun-to-say Avocolada with avocado, pineapple, spinach, kale, coconut and lime.) Supplements and fresh add-ins are available. There is also an all-day breakfast menu and a kids menu. Don’t forget the cookies, sides and beverages.
This is the first Tropical Smoothie Café for owner Walter Bender. When he decided to become a franchisee, he wanted to open a location in the Belleville or Ann Arbor territory. The franchise office asked if he would be willing to open the location in Wayne, which their market demographics had shown would be a growth market. He jumped at the chance. “It was a no-brainer for me. I didn’t hesitate.” Walter is a member of New Hope Church in Wayne and is quite familiar with downtown Wayne. Although he lives in Novi, he says the 15-minute drive to Wayne provides him time to collect his thoughts and prepare for the new day. The franchise originally steered Walter to the former Biggby Coffee site on W. Michigan Ave. Walter said an agreement with the leaseholder couldn’t be made, so he started looking around at other possible locations. He pulled into the Rite Aid plaza parking lot one day and noticed several vacant spaces. He called the property manager and voila! he had his space. The location is a good choice, Walter says, because there is easy access to the plaza from any direction and there is plenty of parking. The Biggby location had limited parking and after he and his employees parked, there would only be a few spaces for customers to park. The plaza landlord gutted the space down to an empty shell which Walter and his crew transformed into the coastal muted warm colors (orange and turquoise) warm wood and metals you’ll find when you step inside.
“The community has been very receptive,” says Walter. His goals are to provide quality products in a clean establishment with great customer service. The majority of his staff are high school students from Wayne Memorial and the surrounding area. Most are in their first job. Walter is trying to teach these teenagers what it’s like to have a job, the discipline that is needed at a job, how to take direction and respect order.
Walter says he is working on a Happy Hour event for the future and currently runs Military Monday where military veterans can get 25% off their order all day Mondays. A customer must show proof of their military status (DD214) or current military ID card to receive the offer.
With the high standards Walter has set for his business, he is hopeful that problems will be few. If a customer were to have a problem, he asks that they call and ask to speak with him or the general manager (who happens to be his son.) He would want the details of the situation to make sure it gets resolved immediately.
This goes back to his goal of providing great customer service. Walt speaks so enthusiastically about Tropical Smoothie Café and the fact that he is there all the time (and if he isn’t, his son is.) As he spoke about his business, he was opening the door for customers as they entered and exited, greeting customers, and shaking hands, all with a bright welcoming smile.
If you haven’t already, take some time to stop by this latest business in downtown Wayne and give it that great Wayne community hospitality we all share. Let Walt know he made an excellent choice when he made the decision to invest in Wayne.