- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 14, 2004

Another smoothie chain is thirsting for the Washington area. Robeks, based in Southern California, has plans to open 50 locations in this market in the next five years.

Robeks’ first D.C. store will open at 1707 L St. NW during the first week in April, said Adam Perel, Robeks’ regional developer for the D.C. area.

Robeks will be joined by Tropical Smoothie Cafe & Deli — another chain with plans to open 30 to 40 locations in the D.C. area in five to seven years.

Mr. Perel said Robeks’ “secret ingredients” set his company apart from competitors.

The company, which has nearly 50 locations, mainly in California, offers a variety of tropical, berry and exotic smoothies, but it’s the “Nutritional Boosts” that help differentiate Robeks’ smoothies.

The boosts add nutrients and vitamins. For instance, the Robeks MuscleMax is a blend of cranberry juice, pineapples, blueberries, bananas, raspberry sherbet, plus nutritional extras such as high-performance protein to support lean muscle and another formula that improves workout performance.

Robeks also offers soup, salad and sandwiches.

“Nutrition issues are hot, and consumers are looking for alternatives to high-fat, empty-calorie foods,” Mr. Perel said.

Retail rummage

• Pier 1 Imports’ Vienna, Va., store is relocating and expanding. A 15,552-square-foot Pier 1 store is expected to open at Tysons Square Center on Leesburg Pike in Vienna later this month. The store will hire 15 employees and transfer 15 workers from its former Vienna store, which closed in February.

The larger store will carry Pier 1 merchandise available in its regular stores, as well as furniture and accessories such as entertainment centers and large rugs, and an expanded upholstery selection.

Cargokids, Pier 1’s children’s furniture and accessories store, is opening a 4,600-square-foot store in the same shopping center later this month.

• National Wholesale Liquidators has signed a 77,000-square-foot lease at the New Carrollton Shopping Center, owned by Decor Realty LLC. The discount store is expected to open in early fall.

Travel and tourism PR

The University of Virginia’s Northern Virginia Center in Falls Church will offer a travel and tourism public relations course as an elective in its noncredit Public Relations Certificate Program. The course, which begins Thursday, will run every Thursday night through April 29.

The course will study how public relations is applied to specialized travel and tourism media, issues, messages, crises and special events, with an emphasis on hotels, restaurants, transportation and tourist attractions. Students do not have to be enrolled in the program to take the course.

Dennis Deuschl, an adjunct professor for the program, developed the course and will be the instructor. To register, contact Judy Sterling at 703/536-1117.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884.Retail & Hospitality runs every other Monday.

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