Millville Residents Warm Up To Frozen Yogurt

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sweet-toothed customers are swirling around the city's newest eatery in numbers that prompted an emergency call from the owner this week.

Not that that's a bad thing, if you're Brian Petruzzi.

The Galloway resident and his wife are owners of YoGo Factory, a startup yogurt restuarant chain that's dropped $5 million into development this year.

"We are so busy at this store before today, which was supposed to be the grand opening, that we actually had to have an emergency delivery of all our supplies," Petruzzi said Friday. "Like a $25,000 emergency delivery today because we actually ran out yesterday." Petruzzi chose Union Lake Crossing shopping center on Delsea Drive to open his newest YoGo Factory store Tuesday evening. The store is in a 2,500-square-foot space in a block that also holds Bruni's Pizzeria II and Buffalo Wild Wings Bar & Grill.

The concept, which originates on the West Coast, is a self-serve store with yogurts that in taste and texture come closer to ice cream than a lot of customers thought possible.

"You guys have a ton of ice cream stores but you don't have anything like this," he said. "This is a lot different than an ice cream or a custard. This is 100 calories a serving to 130. It's not 250 like ice cream. If you look on the wall, almost everything we have out is fat free. If it's not fat free, it's like 3 grams of fat or less. We do a sorbet, which is like a fresh fruit, soft water ice. Awesome. And we have over 100 flavors." "A-plus is what I'm giving it," Catheil Harris said. She'd stopped with her children Lora, 10, and Paul, 14.

"We came yesterday and today," Harris said. " Does that tell you anything? It's something for everybody, because I don't eat ice cream or yogurt, but they had so much fresh fruit that you could get that. My son likes the ice cream, so there's something for everybody. I said, even you had a little kid, there's cereal. So, you don't even have to get ice cream." Lora Harris, 10, said she'd sampled it once this year at a YoGo in Ocean City. "It was good," she said.

"Tastes better than ice cream," Paul Harris said.

Harris said YoGo is a good complement to other restuarants that neighbor it and isn't likely to fail.

Petruzzi said the soft opening Tuesday night drew 616 people in less than six hours. On Wednesday, 2,300 people came.

Petruzzi, 33, said frozen yogurt restuarants are common on the West Coast and in North Jersey "But they're not like this," he said. "We offer not just a superior product. We make like 90 percent of our flavors, on site, on a daily basis. We try to offer an inviting experience. Yesterday, we had 2,300 customers in one day. Crazy.

"We had a soft opening Tuesday evening and we did 616 customers between 6:30 and midnight," he added. "Which was crazy because all I did was update Facebook and say we're open. That's it." Social media like Facebook and Twitter are a major marketing tool for YoGo. For example, customers can get a free ounce of product if they check in on Facebook or other social media sites that they are at the store.

Bridgeton resident Mattie Gibbons, 33, brought her 9-year-old daughter Aniah to check out the offerings.

"We saw the signs and we saw someone with the T-shit on at her gymnastics class so we came on out," Gibbons said.

A fan of yogurt, Gibbons said she liked the store's unusual layout and its take on Internet tools.

"I think it's really cool," she said. "You can check in and everybody's Facebooking and you can get a deal." The Greater Millville Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Tim Shannon gave the new store's opening an assist with a ribbon-cutting.

Petruzzi said he likes to get involved in any community where he has a store. The website, www.yogofactory.com, even has a place to contact with charitable event requests.

"We do a ton of charity events," he said. "We sponsor all kinds of youth programs soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, football, you name it. We've had swimming team signups in our store. Crew team signups in our store. And we'll give them 25 percent of the proceeds. Over the last year, we raised almost $100,000."

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