Beach traffic lures 2nd Smoothie King store to Clearwater

By Times Staff Writer
Published February 8, 2008

CLEARWATER - Smoothie King, home since 1973 to dairy-free, fruit-based nutritional drinks, now has a second store in Clearwater.

Opened last month by franchisee Ravi Murjani, the store is in the new plaza at Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and Belcher Road. Murjani opened Clearwater's first Smoothie King in April last year in the Countryside area on State Road 580 near the new Kohl's store. In addition to smoothies, the stores offer healthy snacks and nutritional products.

A native of Hong Kong, Murjani worked in investment banking and technology industries in London before moving Tampa a year ago to be closer to his wife Sitara's family.

Looking to start a business, he decided on Smoothie King just 10 minutes after visiting one in Tampa.

He was impressed with the company, he said, because its products "are not only delicious, but they can fit into any diet or lifestyle."

In selecting the site for a second store, he liked the Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard location because it's a main corridor to Clearwater Beach. "I'm here to serve the beach traffic," he said.

To open each store took an investment of $220,000, Murjani said. His stores represent a typical Smoothie King, he said.

Smoothie King founder Steve Kuhnau is credited with creating a blended non-dairy fruit shake in the late 1960s that eventually became known as a smoothie. Suffering from lactose intolerance, he experimented with fruit, vitamins and other supplements in his kitchen blender for the drink. His first store opened in Kenner, La. He began to franchise in 1989. Today, there are 480 stores in 32 states and more than 20 in Seoul, South Korea.

Murjani said the hours for both Clearwater stores are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For the new store, call 727 724-5464.

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