If you’ve been to the Student Union since the start of the semester, you likely know of Blenz, the new smoothie bowl restaurant on campus. What you may not know is where Blenz originated — and perhaps you’d rather not, especially if you’re already a die-hard fan of the wide variety of coffee, smoothies and smoothie bowls Blenz offers.
Blenz was founded by college best friends Riley Voce and Zac Rogers, two marketing majors from none other than the University of Alabama. While the words may be repulsive initially, I advise you not to let bad blood cloud your judgement too soon, as Voce expressed great sentiment for our student body.
“After the welcome we’ve had to Tennessee,” Voce said. “I have no problem saying ‘Go Vols.’”
Voce and Rogers first developed the idea for Blenz during Rogers' college graduation road trip to Miami. A family friend they were staying with had made them smoothie bowls throughout their stay, which Voce shared was the moment that started it all. Because he and Rogers had always been into healthy eating and exercise, they believed starting a smoothie bowl business would be a great way to express their mutual interests.
“We started in a trailer, actually,” Voce said. “At the time, neither one of us even had a truck to pull it, so we had to borrow our friends’ trucks to pull the trailer around campus.”
Since opening their first food truck at the University of Alabama in August of 2017, Voce and Rogers have opened three more trucks and four storefront locations. In addition to the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama, Blenz stores can be found on the campuses of the University of Mississippi and the University of South Florida.
Voce is confident this is only the start of a bright future regarding Blenz’s expansion across the southeast.
“We’ve got our eyes set on so many campuses all across the SEC,” Voce said, citing Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as a few examples of where he and Rogers hope to establish more locations. “Anywhere that’ll take a chance on Blenz is where we wanna be.”
If you’ve already been to the Blenz on campus, perhaps you’ve come across the verse of the day displayed by the register. Or, maybe you’ve noticed the company’s use of eco-friendly containers and utensils. Voce confirmed faith and environmental sustainability to be two core beliefs of the Blenz brand.
“We don’t wanna shove religion down anyone’s throat. We’re more about spreading love and kindness and part of that is taking care of the planet.”
The ongoing pandemic has certainly made using all environmentally-friendly products more difficult due to supply-chain issues, but Voce confirmed that under normal circumstances, everything Blenz uses is either recycled or made out of plant fiber.
I stopped by Blenz for the first time on Aug. 31 and ordered “The Sunset” smoothie bowl with granola, strawberries, bananas, coconut flakes and Nutella as my five toppings, but there’s many options to mix and match to your personal liking.
For reference, my total wait time from the moment I stepped in line to when I received my order was about 20 minutes — not so bad given the obvious staffing issues dining options face across campus. Not including tax, the smoothie bowl was $12.
If you become or already are a fan of Blenz, consider inquiring about their rewards program in which you receive a free item from the menu after your 10th purchase.
“Come to Blenz, because we’re giving you a product that’s gonna make you feel good, and we’re gonna do it in a positive way,” Voce said. “Even if you’ve never had a smoothie bowl, come check us out just for the fact that we’re gonna try to put a smile on your face.”