Jamba wants to be thought of as more than a smoothie purveyor

The fast-casual chain is amping up its food offerings and seeing double-digit same-store sales growth.
Photo courtesy Jamba

Jamba wants people to think of it as a meal, not just a snack.

The smoothie purveyor earlier this month launched new breakfast sandwiches, one made with plant-based Impossible sausages, as well as a vegetarian egg bake.

Jamba has had food on the menu for quite some time,” CEO Geoff Henry said. “But, quite frankly, it wasn’t the quality it should be … We’re moving from a snack solution into more of a consideration for some meals.”

Jamba launched its two new “Handwiches” (one with sausage, egg and cheese; the other with Impossible sausage) on April 13. So far, it has seen food attachment to orders climb by triple-digit basis points, Henry said.

“In most cases, if they’re purchasing a sandwich, they’re purchasing a smoothie or a beverage,” he said.

Jamba, which has about 800 U.S. units, has always had food on the menu—but those items were kind of hidden, he said. Now, two of the seven or eight menu boards in most stores are dedicated to food items. Underperforming items like some wraps and flatbreads have been removed. The new Handwich line is made in the chain’s existing ovens.

The brand also revamped its grab-and-go snack and drink offerings.

Jamba expects to roll out more hearty food items before the end of the year, he said.

“There’s more need states we can satisfy for our guests that we’re not participating in today,” Henry said.

The new food focus is one of many changes at Jamba since Henry took the helm in January 2019, following the brand’s sale the previous year to Atlanta-based multi-concept operator Focus Brands.

By June 2019, the largely franchisee-operated chain had re-imagined many of its tech offerings, including launching its first mobile app, adding app-based delivery and debuting a loyalty program.

When Henry started, about 2% of sales came through digital channels. That number is now more than 20%. And Jamba gained a million rewards members during the pandemic, with the loyalty program, My Jamba Rewards, now sending targeted marketing to some 2 million users.

“We’re continuing to see strong growth on that platform,” he said. “We have pretty sophisticated segmentation.”

Henry said a small number of Jamba locations remain closed, largely at transit hubs or universities. About 10% of the chain’s portfolio is located in malls, a segment he said is steadily coming back to life after a pandemic pause.

“Most have started to recover quite well,” he said. “Some malls are close to pre-COVID levels.”

Since 2019, Jamba’s average ticket size has grown more than 20%, he said, as consumers make larger digital orders and food attachment continues to grow. And same-store sales have seen double-digit growth over 2019, he said.

A new Electric Berry Lemonade has outperformed the chain’s forecasts, he said.

Jamba is also eyeing new store formats. The chain opened its first robotic smoothie kiosk, inside a Walmart, late last year. A small-format operation like that could be a good growth move for existing franchisees into gyms, retail or health care facilities, Henry said.

“It’s very early days,” he said. “We’re exploring it.”

Jamba also operates food trucks and is launching its first co-branded drive-thru with another Focus concept.

The chain plans to open 45 new units this year and is particularly focused on East Coast growth.

“I’m very excited about where we’re headed with Jamba,” Henry said. “The last two years have been a great journey.”



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