Yogurt Yeti gets comfortable in Michigan ahead of frozen yogurt craze
Patrick Neff’s DeWalt power drill battery charges behind the “warm well” while customers weigh and pay for their frozen yogurt at his new shop.
The warm well is a basin of the bar counter containing toppings for Neff’s product new to Mount Pleasant: Yogurt Yeti frozen yogurt dishes.
Gummy worms, chocolate chips, sprinkles and pretzels are among the toppings. The power drill is in a case until Neff or his co-owners, Jerry and Linda Yanna, have time to work more on the structural loose ends of his newly opened store. He’s still wiping sawdust off counters.
The three of them have worked 14-hour days for the past six weeks.
Neff is expanding his franchise, Yogurt Yeti, to Michigan because as far as the national frozen yogurt craze is concerned, he said Michigan is behind.
“There’s such a craze for eating healthy, and frozen yogurt is a healthy alternative,” Neff said. “Frozen yogurt is one of the fastest growing franchises.”
The shop opened Aug. 25 as a soft opening, Neff said, but because so many people in the area heard of the opening, it quickly became a full opening. He estimates about 4,000 patrons have been there since its opening.
Last year, Neff opened the first Yogurt Yeti in Lynchburg, Va. Coincidentally, the layouts of both stores are identical, despite being 700 miles apart.
The yogurt dishes are not charged by the amount or variety of toppings but rather charged by the ounce.
“We sell by the ounce but some people buy by the pound,” Neff said.
Neff owns the Virginia location himself, but is partnered with Jerry and Linda for the Mount Pleasant location.
“To make a long story short, I thought it was a great opportunity,” Jerry said. “It was also time for a career change.”
Jerry said he and Linda owned a janitorial cleaning service for 20 years.
Neff said he grew up in the Pontiac area and wanted to bring his business to Michigan. He said the frozen yogurt craze sweeping the nation will, at some point, arrive. Neff said he wants to be established in Michigan by the time it arrives.
Planning for the store began around the first of the year, Neff said. The most difficult thing he said about the process was researching Michigan health regulations because they differ from Virginia, in that Virginia doesn’t regulate frozen yogurt shops.
“Frozen yogurt is fat-free,” Neff said. “I wanted to bring a healthy alternative to the area.”
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