David and Alesha Magby opened up a Tropical Smoothie café in the Skyland Town Center development in Ward 7 in Southeast Washington.

The café held its grand opening on Nov. 5. The Skyland location is the third under the ownership of the Magbys, with cafes located In Temple Hills, Md., and the Shops at Dakota Crossing in Ward 5 in Northeast. The Magbys are planning to open their next location in Baltimore across the street from Morgan State University, their alma mater, in December.

The Magbys are managing to turn smoothies into something more than just a blended beverage. Of course, their drinks use the usual recipes – a liquid base such as fruit juice, milk, yogurt, ice cream or cottage cheese and fruit, vegetables, non-dairy milk, crushed ice, whey powder or nutritional supplements. Customers say they most enjoy the Island Green smoothie. That checks out, as the company reports that’s the top-selling flavor option.

In addition to smoothies, Tropical Smoothie customers may purchase sandwiches, flatbreads, wraps, bowls and breakfast items. Alesha Magby said she and her husband wanted to get into franchising a few years ago, but didn’t want to sell hamburgers and French fries.

“We wanted to offer customers a healthy menu,” she said. “My husband and I make it a point to eat healthy and plant-based foods. Fried foods are not good for African Americans. We also wanted to offer affordable fresh foods to people who live inside of the Beltway.”

The Skyland Cafe offers a small dining area. Alicia Magby said the café’s customer base tends to be carryout and delivery. With 25 employees, David Magby said he wants to help them progress in their careers and lives.

“We want to help our employees go to college or move on to their next job,” he said. “We care about our employees and they know we care about them.”

The Skyland location has emerged as the first eatery to open as a recipient of the District’s food access grant program. The Magbys received a $320,018 grant to open the café. D.C. Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio said the Magbys are an example of entrepreneurship in District neighborhoods with an emphasis on healthy foods.

“We want to make sure that residents of Wards 7 and 8 have access to healthy food,” Falcicchio said. “The food access grants help us to do that. Mayor Bowser wants to eliminate health disparities in the city and the food access grants are designed to do that.”

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James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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