How Fat Tuesday Made Frozen Drinks Big Business
How Fat Tuesday Made Frozen Drinks Big Business

The social concept created the frozen drink segment nearly 40 years ago. Today, it’s taking the world by storm.

Before Fat Tuesday made its debut in 1984, there weren’t many places for vacationing consumers to kick back with a frozen drink—let alone for franchisees to make an impressive profit selling them.

Despite their perennial popularity, traditional bar owners have always been reluctant to serve frozen drinks. They are thought to be more difficult and time-consuming than standard fare, and crunched bar areas aren’t always accommodating to the necessary appliances.

But Fat Tuesday thought outside the bar while raising it. By dedicating itself to focusing on frozen drinks, the social chain has streamlined and perfected the necessary operational systems, drawing large crowds of people who are excited to try something fun and new, and growing to be a highly profitable business model.

Nearly 40 years later, Fat Tuesday boasts over 35 locations around the world, including in lively U.S. cities like New Orleans, Universal Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Miami, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. And because frozen drinks pair best with a beach, the brand has gone international with units in tropical vacation destinations like Mexico and islands like the Bahamas.

With creative branding coupled with a vivacious international presence, Fat Tuesday sells 25 million frozen drinks annually and has become a go-to destination for tourists and locals alike. And dedicated fans and curious newcomers will have new locations to visit soon.

Last year, Fat Tuesday announced its first-ever traditional franchising opportunity, allowing qualified entrepreneurs to open their own franchise locations in new markets across the country and world. While the brand has offered nontraditional franchising for years, the pivot to full franchising has been a long time coming. Fat Tuesday offers a uniquely positioned opportunity with few competitors vying for a share of the increasingly lucrative and in-demand frozen drink market.

“It’s honestly a bit of a mystery,” said James Vitrano, Fat Tuesday’s Chief Development Officer. “You would think people would be trying to copy this idea left and right, but even after all these years, Fat Tuesday is one of the only places where people can go for this kind of experience.”

With average gross margins of $1,517,299, Vitrano said the brand is extremely happy with the success they’ve seen so far and looks forward to attracting more franchisees and growing the business further. “Our owners see an average gross margin of 80.7 percent, so at the end of the day, we’re offering an opportunity that’s not only a smart investment, it’s very profitable,” he said, adding that the average investment per franchise ranges from $479,000 to $1,079,000, depending on location. Ideal markets for Fat Tuesday have popular nightlife scenes in warm weather climates.

“Fat Tuesday has been growing for decades, and we have a lock on an incredibly lucrative and under-saturated segment,” said Vitrano. “There are so many markets that we haven’t been able to reach yet but where Fat Tuesday would absolutely thrive. We’re excited to start working with franchise partners to introduce us to those locations.”

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