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Robeks Starts 2021 Strong, Plans for Continued Growth Throughout the Year

How Robeks navigated the COVID-19 crisis and why 2021 is shaping up to be its best year yet.

By Alex Lockie1851 Franchise Editor
Updated 8:08AM 04/15/21

Robeks, the Los Angeles-based smoothie and health food franchise with more than 100 locations open and in development across the country, didn’t just survive the pandemic, it managed to thrive after making a pivotal decision early in the COVID-19 crisis: put franchisees above all else. 

For Robeks, when the pandemic threatened the health and livelihood of all Americans, the brand quickly acted on its values and did its best to protect its most important stakeholders.

“When the pandemic hit, what became immediately evident was there’s no more important stakeholder in our system than franchisees,” said David Rawnsley, Robeks’ president. “Franchisees are more important than investors, customers, and to a limited degree, the brand itself.”

With investors, board members and customers envisioning how the brand should look during the pandemic, for Rawnsley, the choice to put franchisees first came easy, as he himself is a franchisee. 

How Robeks Put Franchisees First

“We gave a full 100% royalty and marketing fund abatement for a period of about six weeks from the get-go to help ease the economic implications of all this,” said Rawnsley. Additionally, the brand launched a series of regional town hall meetings to listen to franchisee needs as they evolved in each of the markets the brand serves nationwide. 

Overall, Robeks is a franchisee-centric brand, but it’s also a health and wellness brand. Rawnsley and his team acted quickly at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that all franchisees would be taken care of, sourcing large stockpiles of masks and sending plexiglass barriers, at their own cost, to stores. Rawnsley made it clear that no franchisee should have to open if they didn’t feel comfortable, and that no franchisee who wanted to open would be delayed by hiccups in PPE supply. These fast decisions and ongoing proactive efforts have allowed the brand to successfully navigate the ongoing challenges of the past year. 

Sales Tell the Tale

The impact of quickly moving towards COVID-19 safe sales with a brand that’s totally focused on health and wellbeing has shown in Robeks’ 2021 sales numbers thus far. After the initial shock in March of last year, the brand quickly got back on its feet. 

“COVID-19 has taught many of us the importance of prioritizing our health over everything else,” said Rawnsley. As a result, we have seen the impact in our sales as customers seek out health-focused menu options that still taste great. Consumers have also become more comfortable navigating the COVID-19 environment. These two factors combined have resulted in a considerable Q1 sales increase relative to last year.” 

For food and beverage franchise concepts, another major lifeline in the pandemic has been delivery and off-premise dining. For Robeks, that’s one area where their brand shined again. 

“Without ever having advertised ourselves as to-go, 99% of our customers come in for take-out,” said Rawnsley. 

But for Robeks, this hasn’t been a time to rest on their laurels and good fortune. The brand quickly listed their product on third-party delivery apps to make sure customers could dine with them wherever they are.

“We’re currently available on four delivery platforms,” said Rawnsley. “Delivery has gone from 1% to more than 20% of our overall sales volume and only continues to grow.”

Why Robeks, Why Now?

Robeks franchises require a small retail footprint and a health-focused offering that’s more relevant than ever. 

According to the brand’s Vice President of Marketing, Mitch Baker, Robeks’ new menu items before the pandemic couldn’t have been more on target. 

“We introduced new superfood products right at the start of the pandemic, so our timing was spot on,” said Baker. “We then moved some of our other products to the front of the line with a national campaign focused on health and wellness featuring the “Immunity Community” theme. This resonated well with our consumers because it gave us the opportunity to highlight the overall health benefits of Robeks and these products in particular.”

Another stream of strong press recognition for the established brand came when its franchisees donated smoothies to front-line workers en masse through a partnership with Dole. 

But the health scare isn’t the only factor positively impacting Robeks’ franchising prospects. More than 110,000 restaurants have closed since the dawn of the pandemic. This leaves behind tons of retail space and underserved communities, and Robeks is well-positioned to capitalize on it in a way that will catapult its incoming franchisees to the forefront of the economic recovery. 

“We’ve significantly increased our investment in our data-driven site selection platform,” said Rawnsley. “We’re in a much better position to help franchisees find the best site within their trade area. We’re anxious to pair this tool with the right candidates to find the perfect locations for new Robeks franchises. There’s a bit of magic when you get the right franchisee in the right store.” 

So with a small, nimble footprint in retail spaces, menu offerings that appeal to today’s health-obsessed shopper, and the tech in place to compete in the delivery/takeout space while finding new franchisees the best possible locations, now is the time to join the Robeks family of franchisees. 

Robeks existing franchisees themselves have jumped at the opportunity. After seeing how the brand prioritized its operators, existing franchisees Debbie and Greg Soyka doubled down on their investments. 

"This past year has been filled with lessons and successes for us, one of the biggest achievements we had as business owners was being able to expand our Robeks business,” said the Soykas. “We currently own the Goodyear, Arizona location in the Phoenix Metro area and have signed on to bring more Robeks locations to the area. A big part of this success was being able to rely on the Robeks corporate team throughout the pandemic."

Back at corporate, Rawnsley says units are selling fast. 

“Our pipeline is filling,” he said. “We’re probably getting double the lead flow or inquiries in our brand because people who want to be in business for themselves are positioning.”

What Lies Ahead

With 25 years in the business and a concept that’s now building momentum faster than ever, Rawnsley and Baker said Robeks is just getting started with innovations. The brand is overhauling its mobile ordering app for a launch this Summer to benefit all franchisees, and even introduce some clever new menu items that offer substantial, filling meals without greatly impacting the stores’ overhead or complicating the menu. 

“The real beauty of Robeks is that we have people that come here every day for a different food item,” said Baker. “You’d get bored of a burger and fries every day, but you can come here for a fresh juice, smoothie, a lemon ginger shot or an acai bowl and then try some avocado toast. We have enough offerings that allow people to eat here every day and still feel great.” 


Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Robeks is a forerunner in the wholesome juice and healthful smoothie category using fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness for a delicious taste and quality nutrients. Also known for its fresh Acai bowls and now adding premium toasts, Robeks continues to innovate with creatively crafted flavor combinations with fresh, high-quality ingredients that make people happy. With more than 100 locations open and in development across twelve states and the District of Columbia, Robeks continues its stellar growth with franchise opportunities in select markets across the country. For more information, visit