Behind a small self-serve frozen yogurt bar and bright countertops piled high with all things organic, Michelle Williams, one of the founders behind Oro Valley’s Planet Smoothie, stands ready to offer a smoothie and a smile to all who walk through the door. A native Tucsonan and a health aficionado, Michelle and her husband Alonzo chose to bring the Planet Smoothie franchise to Oro Valley after their own lives were transformed by exercise and healthy eating.
While overcoming her struggle with being overweight, Michelle became a self-proclaimed “smoothie junkie,” but was disappointed to find that a vast majority of the smoothie places she knew were packing their products with sugar and a host of ambiguously-labeled additives — claiming to be healthy, but skimming over the facts. Michelle then took it upon herself to adopt the role of Sherlock in her quest for the perfect smoothie, scouting all corners of the country and grilling employees on the origins of any given ingredient. Only Planet Smoothie did not dissatisfy. With a menu touting options for the diabetic, the gluten-sensitive and even the occasional vegan customer, Michelle and Alonzo were perhaps most impressed with the brand’s LeanLeaf Sweetener, which eliminated all sugars from the Planet Smoothie menu by providing a blend of naturally-sweet stevia and agave plants as alternatives.
Offering over 20 smoothies under 300 calories, as well as seven expertly-engineered “Blasts,” with supplements tailored to fit the needs of the many lifestyles occupied by their fan base. Planet Smoothie reassures that no one will be left behind in their pursuit of health.
In keeping with the fact that Michelle learned much of this by pop-quizzing unsuspecting smoothie- baristas, the couple have made an effort to hire staff based on their own passion for healthy living, so that the example set forth and the information provided to customers might come from a genuine place of interest rather than from a script learned by heart.
“Right now we have a ballerina and a soccer player working with us,” Michelle said. “And, we are currently promising 10 percent off to any customer who can prove membership at a gym. Our goal is to reward a healthy lifestyle and educate those who aren’t doing so.”
In addition to these in-store undertakings, Michelle and Alonzo have committed to holding up healthy living by partaking in a number of charities in the Tucson community, such as sponsoring the CDO Little League, providing aptly-named “Pink Promise” smoothies for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and most recently assembling the underpinnings for their very first blood drive. Alonzo ultimately sums up their philosophy when he says: “what we are trying to provide is a service, not a business.” Despite the harsh economic climate, Alonzo adds that they do well because of the equally harsh Tucson weather. While Planet Smoothie has long been a snack-time staple elsewhere, the Oro Valley location is among the first on this side of the country.
“On the east coast, it can be 30 degrees out and the line to any Planet Smoothie will still be snaking around the block,” he said. Special to the summer season, Planet Smoothie now offers three variations on the Lemonade classic, with their Lemonade Days of Summer campaign. Michelle and Alonzo unanimously agree on a favorite: the Lemon Crunch, which features a blend of lemonade, creamy yogurt and crunchy granola just to keep things interesting.
Planet Smoothie is located at 7315 N. Oracle Rd., and is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.