by Sally Mitani
Hani Halloun, owner of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe that recently opened on East Liberty in the former Allure boutique, owns one convenience store, three markets, and a liquor store, but at heart he's a hairdresser. Back in Haifa, Israel, where the forty-three-year-old Palestinian spent the first twenty-one years of his life, "My brother-in-law took me to the hair school, and the first day I loved it. I said this is what I'm going to do, and I gave it a hundred percent."
Halloun still works at a hair salon in Grand Blanc and still loves hair dressing, but eight years ago, when a Tropical Smoothie Cafe opened in the strip mall where he cuts hair, it seemed Grand Blanc couldn't get enough of it, so he recently bought the franchise rights for Ann Arbor and Brighton.
Despite the name, smoothies are only a small part of the menu, which includes wraps, sandwiches, toasted flatbreads, and salads. There are even "breakfast" wraps and sandwiches--though they're available all day--and a kids menu. "I don't like to compare it to anything, because it's unique," he says, (though for rough comparison, the toasted sandwiches seem a little reminiscent of Quizno's).
Though the smoothies have trademarked names like Blimey Limey and Kiwi Quencher, they are not a premade product. Halloun says they're blended on site from fresh and frozen fruit--and the ones on the menu are just suggestions. Halloun will make a smoothie to order from anything on hand.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 607 E. Liberty, 585-0266. Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
[Originally published in November, 2012.]
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