Smoothie King in Palatine is part of suburban business plan for 30 stores
A new Smoothie King that recently opened in Palatine is part of a plan by two suburban business partners to open 30 such franchises in the Chicago area.
Faisal Raja of Bloomingdale and Yonas Hagos of Yorkville said they kicked off their plan last year by opening stores in April in Hanover Park and in October in Lombard. That was followed by the store at 1660 N. Rand Road in Palatine, which opened around Christmas.
The duo intends to open stores in North Aurora and Plano later this year, with a goal to get to 30 stores north of Interstate 88 up to the Wisconsin border, the partners said.
The loose timeline of five to 10 years takes into account supply-chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hagos said.
"It's hard to get equipment and materials," he said. For example, the Palatine location is still missing a sign, which is expected to be delivered next week.
The Palatine store used to hold the former Checkers restaurant and more recently an insurance company that closed in 2017, village officials said.
Hagos and Raja said they chose that location because it's in a well-populated area with lots of sports activities nearby.
"It's a great community," Hagos said. "Just seeing the reaction of the people that find out we're open, it's been very satisfying."
Smoothie King's focus is providing a healthy product with no refined sugar, made with all-natural fruits and vegetables, the partners said.
Both value staying healthy and working out, particularly to be there for their young children, they said.
"Any concept that we own, we literally have to love the product, otherwise we won't do it," Raja said. "Smoothie King is a healthy lifestyle, and it's a big part of our life already."
The fully renovated, 1,200-square-foot building in Palatine has a walk-up counter with no inside seating. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. There is a drive-through component that recently was approved by the zoning board of appeals.
"It's nice to have a different type of food place in there," zoning board chairwoman Jan Wood said. "I think that's wonderful."
Hagos and Raja said they met more than 10 years ago. Together, they own 32 Smoothie King locations in central Illinois, Missouri, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, as well as 13 franchises in Illinois for Arby's, Chicken Salad Chick, Dunkin' Donuts and Nothing Bundt Cakes throughout Illinois, they said.
Smoothie King has more than 1,000 stores across the United States, according to its corporate website. The company was founded after Steve Kuhnau began experimenting with a blender in his Louisiana home in 1973. Kuhnau started the first smoothie franchise in the United States in 1989 and then sold the brand in 2012 to SK USA, Inc.