Smoothie King locations can come in different shapes and sizes, but chances are you’re not expecting to find one at the hospital. Then again, Our Lady of the Lake hospital in Baton Rouge is not your average medical center.
To hear franchisee Patrick Fritscher tell it, Our Lady of the Lake is like its own miniature city, featuring everything from cafes and restaurants to dry cleaning businesses and gift shops.
“It’s a very high-end hospital,” he said. “It was designed so patients there could be as comfortable as possible.”
However, Fritscher’s story with Smoothie King started well before he opened up the brand’s first and only 24-hour location at Our Lady of the Lake with fellow franchisee Sean Cangelosi.
“It actually was my first job,” Fritscher said. “My mom got a work permit for me to do some afterschool activities, and I got a job with Smoothie King.”
All told, Fritscher has been involved with the company for 17 years and counting.
“I had started working for Smoothie King’s corporate office, traveling around the states,” Fritscher said. “When I came across Our Lady of the Lake, I remember being very impressed with the facilities. Fast forward, I got married, and my wife is a physician in Mississippi. She ends up getting transferred to Our Lady of the Lake.”
The brand’s dedication to healthy and great-tasting smoothies proved to be a huge hit with doctors.
“We went in there first talking about how it would be great for the patients, because of the health aspects, but the physicians love it,” Fritscher said. “They’re our No. 1 guests. They’re on their toes, they’re busy, they’re running around. At my mall location, everyone’s relaxing, not in a rush, but at the hospital, speed is of the essence.”
What’s more, working at a hospital location has presented Fritscher and Cangelosi with many ways to get involved and make a difference in the lives of patients.
“For instance, there’s this 5-year-old that has been there for three years due to a stomach disease, and any interaction he gets outside of his routine, he appreciates it so much,” Fritscher said. “Plus, we’re bringing him treats. The drinks are always free for these patients, and I try to visit patients like that every week.”
Fritscher said the brand has been supportive every step of the way, from helping him and Cangelosi open the first 24-hour Smoothie King location to working with patients in need.
And now, other hospitals are hoping to replicate the success Fritscher has seen at Our Lady of the Lake.
“I’m in talks right now with two other hospitals, but my focus right now is to devote 100 percent to the Lake,” he said. “There’s still so much opportunity. Even though we already have one of the highest volumes for stores in the nation, I know there’s still so much potential and we’re barely scratching the surface.”