There was no fanfare for the opening of Tropical Smoothie Cafe (3811 Fairfax Drive) in Virginia Square on Monday because it was a surprise for everyone — including the owner.
Owner Marcus Barnett said after the typical county permitting delays, he finally received word yesterday that the restaurant could open. He hurried to the bank, and had the doors open for customers by 4:00 yesterday afternoon. Today is the first full day of operation.
Barnett noted two things that set Tropical Smoothie Cafe apart from its smoothie competitors: the restaurants serves food and uses natural ingredients.
“I know everyone says that,” Barnett said. “But even in our smoothies, we don’t use concentrates. It’s all real fruit that you can see and we blend it up.”
The menu includes salads, sandwiches, wraps and flatbreads. In keeping with the healthy theme, there’s also a focus on portion control.
“It’s just enough, not to overdo it,” Barnett said. “That’s the reason I got into this, to do something healthy. I wanted to find a place that had good food and good quality as well.”
Barnett is a Virginia native who attended The College of William and Mary, where he met his friend and current business partner, Manish Singh. The two frequented a Tropical Smoothie Cafe there and became friends with the owner. For years, the goal has been to eventually open a location of their own in the D.C. metro area.
The two were particularly drawn to Arlington because they notice residents making efforts to lead healthy lifestyles.
“We love how Arlington is very active. We see people run in front of our store all day long, Gold’s Gym is there, Sport and Health and all these bikers,” Barnett said. “I think that goes hand in hand with what we’re doing.”
The restaurant will have its grand opening from Thursday, September 20 through Saturday, September 22. All customers who purchase a smoothie those three days will receive a free food item. Barnett hopes that helps people realize the restaurant serves more than just smoothies.
Although there are no immediate plans for area locations other than Virginia Square, Barnett is leaving it open as a possibility.
“If we can win over Arlington we can do anything,” he said.