GBN, GBS draw customers to local businesses

Glenbrook Goes Local supports Tropical Smoothie Cafe, La Taquiza


During lunch, a GBS student participates in the Glenbrook Goes Local competition by ordering from La Taquiza y Mas. GBN won the second round of the competition, 181–153. Photo by Jenna Amusin

Alicia Amsel and Anna Morrison

Throughout the Glenbrook Goes Local competition, junior board member Ashley Wise spoke to the owners of Tropical Smoothie Cafe and La Taquiza. They shared that the competition was a huge success, as both businesses experienced one of their busiest weeks since the pandemic began. La Taquiza saw a 20 percent increase in the number of customers during the competition. 

Glenbrook Goes Local was created and organized by members of the Glenbrook North and Glenbrook South junior boards with the goal of supporting local businesses. The first round was held at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Plaza del Prado from Feb. 13 to Feb. 21, and the second round was held at La Taquiza and La Taquiza y Mas from March 13 to  March 20. 

All community members were welcome to participate in the competition, which involved a point system to track which school was winning. For each purchase, one point was awarded to the customer’s designated school.

Wise said in a video conference that community involvement was a large goal of the competition.

“Our whole thing is ‘Glenbrook’ Goes Local, not ‘GBN’ Goes Local,” Wise said.

Marla Benz, owner of La Taquiza and La Taquiza y Mas, said in a phone interview that the competition went better than she expected. She saw an extra 50 to 60 customers each day at both locations.

Edgardo Benitez, co-owner of La Taquiza y Mas, said in a phone interview that the support shown by the community during the competition was amazing.

“You see this kind of support only in movies. 

“It’s incredible … how the Glenbrooks are teaching the young kids how to support their own community,” Benitez said.

Armaan Siddiqui, GBS junior board member, said in a video conference that students enjoyed going to their favorite places for the competition.

“[Students] were just excited to help out all these local businesses,” Siddiqui said.

Luanne Vogelmeier, owner of Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Plaza del Prado, said in a phone interview that the Plaza del Prado location was impacted dramatically by the pandemic. Last March, Vogelmeier reduced the number of employees from 20 to three.

When approached by junior board members about the competition, she said the decision to participate was a no-brainer.

“I felt very flattered that [the junior boards] wanted to use us as [the] pilot restaurant.

“I wanted to do whatever I could to make it work,” Vogelmeier said.

During the competition, her staff made about double the usual number of smoothies, Vogelmeier said.

“It was nice to see a line out the door again,” Vogelmeier said.

According to Wise, the junior boards are trying to get both schools as involved as possible.

“It is a competition, but … the more people the better,” said Wise. “It doesn’t matter what school they’re coming from.”