The typical club surveyed by IHRSA regarding non-dues revenue reported generating 32.1 percent of total revenues from internal profit centers, but the report did not break out how much of that was from juice/smoothie bars and cafés.

The cost of running a juice/smoothie bar varies. Darden spends $20,000 a month (including payroll and cost of goods) to run his café at Telos. The café operates profitably on a minimal level, but it is not a big profit contributor, he says.

“We have considered cutting back, but if we were to get rid of it, we would disappoint a lot of our existing customers,” Darden says. “We do make a profit, but it's a marginal profit. We picture it as more of an amenity than anything else.”

The food service business is hard, and it's difficult to make a profit, Shoulders says, adding that if club owners can break even on their food service operations, then they are doing well. At the Fayetteville Athletic Club, Shoulders reports sales of $30,000 a month, with a small profit.

Lee would not say how much revenue Gainesville's juice bar generated, but she says it's insignificant. Despite that, she says, making money isn't the primary reason for the juice bar.

“We wanted to create a social atmosphere for our members, which we believe to be increasingly important in the health club area to make people come back because they have friends here,” she says. “Of course, having another revenue-producing area is important, but the purpose of our café is not to make a bunch of money. For the time being, we are OK with that — as long as we are not losing money.”

Newman says that juice/smoothie bars and cafés are right in line with the heart of the Y's mission and vision.

“We have found that people crave places to connect, make friends, relax and talk,” he says, “especially in the case of ‘health seekers’ who might be intimidated just walking into a room filled with cardio and strength equipment.”

Shoulders says the café at the Fayeteville Athletic Club is there to stay.

“Our members enjoy it,” he says. “Our staff enjoys having a place on-site where they can buy food at a discount. It's a nice staff retention tool. It's not making tons of money, and it's not a huge income item, but it serves its purpose.”

One of the ways we fulfill our mission of helping people to grow in spirit, mind and body is by providing places where they can connect with others, build friendships, and find encouragement and support. Café areas help us to achieve that goal.”