TEMPLE HILLS – A black-entrepreneur power couple is set to open a new Tropical Smoothie Café in early September, as part of a $30 million renovation project that’s being applied to the Shops at Iverson (Iverson Mall).
The Prince George’s County natives, Alesha Hicks, 36, and David Magby, 36, are determined to provide healthier food alternatives to the residents of the area.
Meeting at and graduating from Morgan State University, these business/life partners came together to fulfill the mission of their community and their own objectives: to change the notion that fast food can’t be healthy while showing an example of thriving black entrepreneurship.
“We want to be an example of entrepreneurship. We also want to be community activists as well, and [let] people know the importance of living out your dream, having a goal…and targeting those dreams and aspirations,” Hicks said.
“We want to be an example for young kids and even grown adults who want to be able to do what they want, do what they feel is best they need to do. So again, this isn’t just about opening up a Tropical Smoothie Café and expanding. It’s also about teaching and letting people see us, and see us as an example. We’re going to help anyone who has questions.”
With options that offer a wide array of smoothies and meals that also conveniently caters to vegetarian and gluten-free diets, Tropical Smoothie Café can be a healthy alternative to traditional fast-food restaurants that are often high in sugar, fat and calories, while lacking in necessary nutrients that allow for healthy living.
“Our number one goal was this, of course: to bring a healthier food option into the community that raised us,” Magby said. “We understand that it was, or there is a shortage of quick-service restaurants that gives you a healthier food option. There are always options for wings, or fries, or nuggets, or sodas, or hotdogs, or pizzas…you can swing by any corner and get that in a matter of moments, so we wanted to give the same convenience to the community, like I said, as a quick service restaurant, and just be a healthier food option for the community.”
Choosing the location for this establishment would prove to be integral towards their goal of community revitalization. As a result, Hicks and Magby decided to open their franchise in a low-income community that was underserved in nutritious foods.
“Of course, we are trying to bring these options into the lower-income communities because that’s who need it the most. It’s not a secret that the lower income areas have a higher obesity rate, or (have) more convenience stores where they charge you double or triple for the same items you can get at the grocery store,” states Magby. “So we want to combat that by bringing this healthier food option…to the lower income areas. We passed on several locations that were higher income areas which, some may think that’s where you should place your business as an entrepreneur. But we decided to pass on those locations, and it wasn’t by coincidence. We just wanted to start in the same communities that we know need it, deserve it, and that raised us.”
With an investment that took two years in the making, Hicks and Magby’s Tropical Smoothie Café stands to be a quintessential model for aspiring black entrepreneurs to show that success can be attained through perseverance, hard work, and resilience.
“Especially in these kinds of communities where we come from, we don’t have the expendable income, we don’t make enough money to make a move like this, we don’t have the collateral when it comes to housing or credit in place to make things like this,” 36-year-old, family-friend Terrance D. Stroman III said. “So being able to find somebody that looks like you, or that comes from where you are, to lean on them as a black entrepreneur can be a struggle. So when you do find someone that’s close to you, or you do find someone, it’s kind of a miracle to a certain extent.”