Before opening her first Saladworks, Carmela Wootan has spent 17 years in the military and eight years as a Smoothie King franchisee. When it came to owning her own business, franchising seemed like the perfect formula to give her the stability of business ownership, while still allowing her the freedom to devote time to her military career. Wootan has an MSHS in Mental Health Counseling from Touro University, a B.S. in Chemistry from Xavier and Lean Six Sigma Certification from Villanova. She joined the military in 2002 as an intelligence specialist and began her basic training in Colorado. Between deployments in South Korea, Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq, Wootan has been living in Colorado Springs since 2004. There are five military installations in the area: Fort Carson, Air Force Academy, Shchriever, Peterson and the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.
When asked about how she got into franchising, Wootan put it simply: “I liked the concept of ‘healthy mind, healthy body.’ I’m very into fitness, nutrition and health and it just happened to be that the things I was interested in came in franchising form. I love being able to replace my meal with smoothies to eat on-the-go and I love the nutrition and energy you get from a healthy salad.”
Wootan currently owns and operates a Smoothie King in Colorado Springs, her first franchise. She opened Smoothie King in partnership with her dad in 2011, hoping to bring better restaurant options to those training and working at the local military bases. “I am looking forward to bringing a Saladworks to a base after seeing success with my Smoothie King franchise in Colorado Springs,” said Wootan.
One reason Wootan chose Saladworks was because of the typical unhealthy options found around military bases.
“When I was stationed in Korea in 2017, there was this salad bar I kept eating. When I got back to Colorado, I realized that we don’t have enough healthy options for dining,” said Wootan. Wootan started researching and came upon Saladworks. “Everything about Saladworks aligns with what I want and Colorado Springs residents like to be in a good atmosphere,” said Wootan. “Franchising offers that umbrella and that safety net for me to be able to run the best business possible.”
Regarding her plans for expansion, Wootan is ambitious and optimistic.
Wootan’s business partner in Saladworks is Nakoma Pratt, an Air Force Master sergeant on her 19th service. Pratt has served multiple deployments including Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, and is currently stationed in Germany. When Pratt retires, she plans to return to Colorado Springs to open more Saladworks locations with Wootan.
“Right now we are about four or five miles from Fort Carson, the largest military base in the area,” said Wootan. “I’m looking to eventually get a small kiosk location to accommodate the 70,000-plus people directly on the base so that they can have that healthy option as well.”