To finally pursue opening a business together, Brian Griffith and Kim Rouse are working to grow the Smoothie King name in the Chicagoland area later this summer.
Brian Griffith and Kim Rouse are an engaged couple preparing to introduce Mokena, Illinois, to Smoothie King, after successful careers in the pharmaceutical industry and in patent law, respectively. After years living elsewhere, from the nation's capitol to the suburbs of Los Angeles, Griffith returned home to the Chicagoland area and Rouse decided to meet him there.
Coming from a background working in pharmaceuticals, paired with an passion for health and fitness, Griffith was interested in opening his own business with an emphasis on nutrition. Rouse was actually the one who introduced the Smoothie King idea to her fiancé, having been a long-time fan of the product. Both Griffith and Rouse thought the entire area would love the smoothies as much as they do, and are committed to opening two more sites, once they get their Mokena store up and running later this summer.
What were you doing before partnering with Smoothie King?
Kim: I’m originally from New York and moved to Illinois about three months ago from the Washington D.C. area, where I worked as an IT specialist with a law firm. The majority of my career has been spent in legal. For the past 15 years, I’ve worked with patents. I moved to Mokena to be with my fiancé, Brian, and when looking into new opportunities that we might be able to pursue together, I remembered Smoothie King from my time in Maryland. Their smoothies were always a part of my morning routine and thought it might fit well in the Mokena market. We researched the brand further and, thankfully, Brian liked the concept as much as I did.
Brian: I’m originally from Chicago but lived in California for about 20 years in the San Fernando Valley. Living there really exposed me to a healthier lifestyle. My dad worked in the music industry and my mom was a teacher, so the two of them constantly encouraged my siblings and I to focus on proper nutrition – it brought me back to my roots. Coming back to Chicago, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry where I was a manager for 18 years. The company was restructuring and I thought this was the opportune time to pursue a new career in a different segment.
How did you learn about Smoothie King, and what made you ultimately decide to commit?
Brian: Before Kim and I were engaged, she was always talking about Smoothie King smoothies – I remember her stopping to grab a smoothie while the two of us together were working to get back in shape. When we started looking at franchising opportunities, Smoothie King was one of the first concepts we researched because the brand really resonated with us.
We compared and contrasted a few other franchise opportunities, GNC and Subway, but reading about Smoothie King, we were blown away. Meeting the corporate team and our realty manager pushed us over the edge, they’re like a big family who sincerely care about their franchisees and we believe this will be a long and successful relationship.
Why is Mokena the perfect market for your Smoothie King business?
Brian: When I was in the pharmaceutical industry, I needed to live somewhere that was near an interstate due to a heavy travel schedule. I heard great things about the Mokena community because it started as a small farm town. There are great schools and churches which is similar to the area I grew up in. I wanted to live in a close-knit community that was close to Chicago and thought this franchise opportunity would give us a chance to make a meaningful impact.
What’s next for you and your business? Do you have any development/expansion plans?
Brian: We signed for three locations and our territory includes Tinley Park, which is one of the fastest growing suburbs in Illinois – our first store will be able a mile away from Tinley, Orland Park and Frankfort, strategically located right off of U.S. 45. There’s a high concentration of gyms in the area, pretty ideal for our target demographic.
The main reason we’re doing this is for our kids. Kim has a 19-year-old daughter who currently attends Winston-Salem State University. I have two girls, one's a senior at Roosevelt University, and my other is an 8-year-old who goes to school in Mokena. When I told our girls, they were very excited about the opportunity. All three of them would like to be a part of the business in some capacity.
I am very involved with the school and would like to become even more involved once the location is up and running. There is a need for uniforms and band material so any way we can contribute, Kim and I will be there to help fill the gap so children growing up in these communities will be able to have the fun that we had when we were kids.