Getting more fruits, veggies into Brookings’ fast food

John Kubal/Register: Above, “We thought Brookings needs something like this, … a place that had smoothies and some healthy choices as far as fast food goes,” Ann Park, owner of the Tropical Smoothie Café franchise in Brookings, explained of her new eatery. Below, from left, Jessica Sterkel and Taylor Arneson, prepare some smoothies for drive-through customers at the Tropical Smoothie Café at 1461 Sixth St. The new franchise opened Sept. 16. It offers a variety of drinks, many of them blended with fruits and vegetables, plus sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas and salads.

BROOKINGS – “I feel like we needed a place that had smoothies and some healthy choices as far as fast food goes,” explained Ann Park, owner of the Tropical Smoothie Café franchise, which opened Sept. 16 and is now serving customers at 1461 Sixth St. 

Hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

While the majority of Smoothie customers are drive-through, there are a few tables and chairs inside for anyone wanting to sit down and eat.  And there is limited on-site parking.

Featured smoothies include: Super Vegie with several varieties having fruits and vegetable; Balanced Fusions, with a variety of fruits such as bananas and berries; Fruit Blends, Tropical Treats; and Kids treats, some of which include chocolate and peanut butter.

The food menu includes flatbreads, sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas and breakfast options.

And just what is a “tropical smoothie”? Smiling, Park noted that a friend of hers pointed out that “it’s not a Slurpee.”

“It is ice-and-water based and then there’s fruit,” Park explained. “We do use turbinado sugar; it’s a more refined sugar. And there are several different combinations. We use fruits and fruit concentrates. Some do have yogurt, but they can be made without it. And 98% are dairy-free.”

Park is a native of Dawson, Minnesota. She came to Brookings to attend South Dakota State University and graduated in 1984.

She has a background as a restaurateur. She worked as a waitress while attending college.

Later, at what was then Brookings Inn/Days Inn, Park managed the Pavilion, which later became The Ground Round.

“Then I had kids and took some time off there,” she explained. “I’ve kind of been in the food service business awhile.”

The genesis for opening a Tropical Smoothie Café came a few years ago when she traveled to Rapid City for hockey. 

“For all the girls on the team, we had to stop at Tropical Smoothie before we brought them to the rink. And we all thought Brookings needs something like this. Three years later, here it is,” Park said.  

“Come in and try it,” Park said, as a recommendation for one of Brookings’ newest eateries and non-alcoholic watering hole. “We’ve been very busy; but I know there are a lot of people in the community who haven’t tried it yet. We’d like to see more people come through. Everything is so good here. I would say our food is a healthier menu.”

There are several Tropical Smoothie Cafés in this Midwest area: Two in Rapid City; one in Spearfish, two in Fargo, North Dakota; one in the Twin Cities; and a few in Iowa.

Contact John Kubal at [email protected]

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