The frozen beverage-meets-festivity brand wants to bring more frozen drink decadence to the Caribbean market.
Vibrant, lively and exotic, Fat Tuesday has been making a splash in the space traditionally reserved for conventional bar concepts ever since its founding in 1984. Last year alone, Fat Tuesday sold nearly 5 million frozen drinks – Fat Tuesday’s calling card—and has expanded to 35 locations across North America since it arrived on the scene. Guests to Fat Tuesday locations know they can expect a one of a kind atmosphere, all while sipping a high-octane beverage or shopping the brand’s spirited line of apparel, party gear and souvenir vessels.
That in-demand, vibrant experience is exactly what the brand is planning for the Caribbean market, especially with the kick-off of cruise season.
Fat Tuesday departs from competitors because its offering is not merely what’s on the menu or the hanger—rather, the brand has expanded into an international phenomenon thanks to its ability to capture the uniquely festive spirit that frozen drinks bring. That spirit has proved welcoming across demographics and markets: Fat Tuesday already has locations in popular vacation destinations such as New Orleans, Miami, Key West, Cozumel and the Honduran island of Roatan. Wherever guests dream of frozen drinks, Fat Tuesday will come.
“Our offering extends beyond premium frozen beverages,” explained Chief Development Officer James Vitrano. “With over 35 Fat Tuesday locations and counting across North America, we’ve demonstrated that our locations embody a way of life that’s in high-demand across markets.”
That in-demand, unique experience — and one of a kind business model — is exactly what the brand is planning for the Caribbean market, especially with the kick-off of cruise season.
Vincent Lobue is a Fat Tuesday franchisee in Roatan who knows what cruise season can do for Fat Tuesday franchise owners. He started as a bartender in 1985 at the brand’s flagship in New Orleans. Ten years later, Lobue opened two Fat Tuesday locations in Cozumel, Mexico. Since 2008, he has operated his third Fat Tuesday location in Roatan—directly inside the Carnival cruise line piers.
Lobue explained that the playful atmosphere and brilliant array of tropical beverages and merch are just what vacationers are looking for, especially those who are enjoying a cruise.
“The brand is famous for our frozen drinks and a warm, tropical vacation just screams that,” said Lobue. “Our main product is a premium, high-quality daiquiri mix that keeps the cruise passenger in a happy place while in port. There’s nothing like a little 190 Octane to help you with your Spanish and bartering skills!”
That laid-back and festivity-friendly approach to vacation is emblematic of the Caribbean’s tourist culture. In this regard, Fat Tuesday is impressively positioned as a growing franchise opportunity.
“The Caribbean is all about a vacation mentality,” Lobue said. “The drinking age is 18. For those on vacation, they want every day and night to be like Mardi Gras. That’s Fat Tuesday.”
Vitrano built on this.
“Fat Tuesday is uniquely poised for strong growth in the Caribbean—originating in subtropical New Orleans means that Fat Tuesday grew to a lifestyle, beyond-bar concept that aligns with Caribbean consumer demand,” Vitrano said. “Our financials reflect that. Fat Tuesday locations average $1.88 million in gross sales, with an average gross margin of 80.7 percent.”
Lobue also explained that Fat Tuesday daiquiri mixes are aseptically packaged, meaning they can be stored at room temperature. “Fat Tuesday mixes are therefore perfect for this environment, from production to shipping to consumption,” Lobue said.
In addition to cabana-ready beverages, Fat Tuesday Roatan also serves food, an offering that Lobue said drives 30 percent of sales.
“We are heavy on food, which means lots of seating and square footage is needed,” Lobue said. “We’re a four-acre beach club with 1,800-plus lounge chairs, 700-plus table and bar seating, and our Mahogany Bar pier receives half a million cruise passengers per year with up to 10,000 passengers per day.”
Three DJs and a reggae band keep the energy up.
This fun vibe means that cruises drive a considerable portion of the Roatan Fat Tuesday’s business, and Lobue shared that business is similar for his Cozumel locations. Rather than being an issue of seasonal success, this is great news for the brand. Since there are numerous points to embark on cruises around the Gulf of Mexico, Lobue explained, no airline tickets are needed for most passengers, which means steady business.
“Cruising is now year-round for these markets,” Lobue said.
The average investment range to own a Fat Tuesday is $479,000 to $1.08 million. For more information about franchising opportunities, click here.