Juice and smoothie chain Nékter Juice Bar expects 2022 to set companywide records for sales, with an estimated $114 million in revenue projected for the year. That’s well above prior figures for the Santa Ana-based firm, which ranks No. 21 among the largest restaurant chains based in OC by sales, according to the Business Journal’s May rankings.
More’s in store to keep the growth moving ahead, including a push into offering more food, says Chief Executive Steve Schulze.
“Our intention back in 2010 was to reinvent the juice space,” Schulze said. “Now we want to reinvent the food space within the juice category.”
Nékter worked with a San Francisco-based consulting culinary company to start incorporating more food items on its menu, such as hot breakfast and lunch dishes.
Menu additions will be rolled out in the first quarter of 2023, according to Schulze.
There’s also a possible juice and food combination in the works, with a smaller sized drink with a snack being planned.
Nékter expects to reach 200 stores by early January. In 2022, the chain signed over 70 new franchise locations, which will be rolled out in the next few years.
Comparable sales are up 11% for the year, Schulze told the Business Journal. Recent new markets include Minnesota, where the company opened its first 200-square-foot spot inside a Kowalski’s Markets grocery store; two more locations in the state are in the works.
In Indiana and Ohio, the juice bar chain is working with DoorDash to be an exclusive juice and smoothie option. It is operating out of ghost kitchens in those markets.
“We’re going into markets where we don’t currently have locations,” Schulze said. “We’re putting our name out there without paying for and building a brick-and-mortar location.”
Another part of Nékter’s development strategy includes licensing.
Nékter recently signed a deal with gaming developer Nintendo Co. for a summer collaboration for the anniversary of the Mario Bros. franchise. It’s one of the Nékter’s biggest licensing deals, Schulze said.
The chain is also focused on developing its Nékter app and rewards program. Whether it’s integrating health and lifestyle tips or creating a better functioning ordering platform, “we’re giving more value to the loyalty member,” Shulze said.
There are also plans to release a secret menu for loyalty members in the future.