Tropical Smoothie Café is emerging as one of the fastest-growing concepts in America with its recent announcement to open five new restaurants in Albuquerque, marking the franchise's first introduction into the area.

"We're thrilled to continue our expansion throughout the Western United States and to bring Tropical Smoothie Café to Albuquerque, a community with strong growth opportunities and a thriving culture that we're excited to tap into," says Mike Rotondo, chief executive officer of Tropical Smoothie Café. "We're continuing to ride the momentum from a strong year of growth in 2015, which has driven interest from potential franchisees across the country in markets such as Houston, California, Knoxville, Alabama and Michigan, among others."

Local entrepreneurs Dusty Veach, Nathan Miller and Jake Miller will own and operate the five new Albuquerque cafes and plan to expand into the Santa Fe and Farmington areas over the next several years.

Tropical Smoothie Café reported its strongest year of growth in 2015, with same-stores sales of 11.25 percent — its sixth consecutive quarter of double-digit positive comp sales. It signed franchise agreements to develop 199 new cafes across the US, including about two dozen locations in Southern California.

This year, the food and smoothie franchise plans to exceed 550 restaurants nationwide. The brand currently has franchise opportunities across the US in markets such as Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, Atlanta, Columbus and Charlotte, among others. By 2018, Tropical Smoothie Café plans to have 800 stores open across the country.

"When we made the decision to pursue opportunities in franchising, we considered many different options, but Tropical Smoothie Café completely stood out. The brand has an exceptional proven track record of success because of its superior business model, and we are thrilled to be partnering with a leader in the foodservice industry," says Jake Miller, Tropical Smoothie Café franchisee.

Tropical Smoothie Café is looking to add qualified franchisees to its growing brand. Candidates should have business experience; $125,000 in liquid assets and a minimum net worth of $350,000; and an initial investment of between $210,550 and $478,550.

The healthy fast food franchise currently boasts an average unit volume (AUV) of more than $634,000 — the highest in the company's 19-year history — with the top 50 percent reporting an AUV of more than $806,000.

Tropical Smoothie Café's aggressive franchise growth is backed by the entrepreneurs at the BIP Franchise Accelerator, a division of venture capital firm BIP Capital, which invested in the brand in 2010. BIP Capital has invested more than $250 million in emerging, high-growth brands across the franchising, software, and technology and consumer products industries.

BIP Capital created the BIP Franchise Accelerator to leverage its leadership team's deep franchise experience to help emerging brands accelerate growth. In addition to Tropical Smoothie Café, the BIP Franchise Accelerator's portfolio includes Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, which has grown to 13 locations in Georgia and Florida.