Smoothie King a sweet success for two Coastians. Could Qdoba be next?

Owners of local Smoothie Kings are preparing to open a store north of Interstate 10 in Gulfport.
Owners of local Smoothie Kings are preparing to open a store north of Interstate 10 in Gulfport.

In February, Clay Koenig will open his seventh Smoothie King store. He is 33.

For his business partner, Travis Bolster, the Gulfport location north of Interstate 10 will be his 12th Smoothie King. He is 41.

They attribute their success at such young ages to the right company at the right time — and lots of hard work.

Koenig was an executive with Smoothie King, based out of Covington, Louisiana, when he decided he’d rather own a store than be an adviser to other franchise owners.

The company wanted him to continue with corporate development, said Stephen Foley, franchise development manager for Smoothie King.

“He wanted to build stores and build brand,” Foley said.

“It was the right timing,” Koenig said.

He and Bolster formed a company about four years ago and opened their first store together in Mobile. That was followed by D’Iberville; Tallahassee, Florida; Biloxi; another in Mobile; and then Slidell. After the Gulfport opening, there will be a new store in Laurel this spring and another in Tallahassee.

“We don’t have any other plans past that,” Koenig said. “That will keep us busy for the next two years.”

But then there is Qdoba Mexican Eats, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant franchise, which Bolster operates in Hattiesburg.

“We do have aspirations to expand that to the Gulf Coast,” he said.

They aren’t building their business alone.

“We have some amazing people who work for us,” Koenig said. “We’re able to give them a lot of really unique opportunities.”

Smoothie King is one of the most successful health food chains, and the stores are taking part in a “Change a Meal Challenge” to help people get fit and lose weight. Customers choose from 20 Meal Replacement Smoothies that are under 400 calories and have at least 10 grams of protein.

“You can see the results if you follow the guidelines,” Koenig said.

Bolster’s favorite flavor is the new chocolate Firm and Burn smoothie with kale. Koenig prefers chocolate Lean1 and adds peanut butter.

For those who want to splurge, all Smoothie King stores in the Gulf Coast area of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama are celebrating Carnival season with King Cake Smoothies through Feb. 28.

Smoothie King was founded in 1973 and now has 800 locations in the U.S. and abroad.