Come March, frozen yogurt lovers will have a few more options in the Triangle area.
Raleigh couple John and Linda Lenzmeier plan to open two new franchises of the FreshBerry Frozen Yogurt Café chain by mid-2010. The lease for the newest suburban location at Six Forks Station shopping center in Raleigh was finalized at the end of December, while the more urban spot is still under consideration. The Lenzmeiers plan to begin construction on the first café in the next few weeks.
Boasting all-natural, low-calorie frozen yogurt, FreshBerry is a Midwest chain with seven locations throughout Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. The idea for FreshBerry was born in 2006 in Tulsa, Okla., when local owner of Camille’s Sidewalk Café Carolyn Archer approached its parent company, Beautiful Brands International, about incorporating frozen desserts into the café. BBI transformed the concept into a multi-store expansion.
In recent years, the frozen yogurt industry has exploded in popularity as people became more aware of healthy eating trends. With the addition of shops like The Yogurt Pump in Chapel Hill and Local Yogurt in Durham, the interest and market of “fro-yo” continues to grow in the Triangle area. John Lenzmeier said he hopes to develop additional branches throughout the state.
“I think North Carolina is ready for it,” he said. “We’ve got nine million people in the state, and it made sense to have a healthier alternative for a snack in the marketplace. It’s not that easy to eat healthy and fast.”
Each frozen yogurt treat is around 200 calories and is high in both protein and calcium. The FreshBerry chain has six flavors always available with six to ten more currently in development. Toppings include fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries, kiwi and pineapple, as well as additions such as Fruity Pebbles cereal, coconut and chocolate chips. FreshBerry also offers smoothies and FreshPops, popsicles made from frozen yogurt. The wide array of the franchise appeals to the health-conscious generation, Lenzmeier said.
In contrast with Yogurt Pump and Local Yogurt, the Lenzmeiers decided to adopt a chain rather than open a grassroots shop.
“I’ve found that consumers like knowing what they’re getting into before they get into it,” Lenzmeier said. “With a brand, you get that. And with FreshBerry, we have the franchising model to cut and paste from. It’s easier than starting from scratch.”
Ted Domville, co-owner and manager of Local Yogurt, said he appreciates the flexibility and community aspects of local joints and never considered franchising as an option.
“The Durham area has always seemed to shy away from chains,” Domville said. “We can do a lot that a chain can’t do, like choosing all our ingredients and menu options. We can be more active in the community.”
Connie Semans, co-owner of LocoPops, said she did not feel threatened by the commercial expansion. She added that the quality of her products should maintain LocoPops’ share in the market.
“Our products are all hand-processed—more than 50 percent of our product line is made with local ingredients and over 50 percent of our menu changes on a weekly basis,” Semans said. “The quality of our ingredients is much higher than other frozen products on the market. Although we’d prefer to see local businesses open up shop, we understand there’s competition.”
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Annie Kinney, a junior and North Carolina native, said she always loved the area’s commitment to local businesses and worried about the implications of adding chains. Other students, however, said they were glad for the additional options.
“If FreshBerry does it better—with better prices, better service and better product—then they deserve to get a chunk of the market,” sophomore and Durham resident John Bria said. “It’s competition.”
Because frozen yogurt is still relatively new to the Triangle area, Domville said it is too early to predict the consequences of additional shops, especially since Local Yogurt has expansion plans of its own.
Lenzmeier said FreshBerry can help grow the total market share, which can sustain multiple concepts. Although it is a franchise, the couple said their FreshBerry shop will have a local flair and a focus on the family.
“It’s going to be a family business,” Lenzmeier said. “Every new venture is full of excitement, challenges and risk, but we’re ready to give it a go.”