Yogo Factory to open on OC Boardwalk

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New chain looking to add 3 locations in America’s Greatest Family Resort

With 13 stores under construction, Yogo Factory is riding nationwide trend to No. 1 standing in the region

OCEAN CITY — Last summer, Brian Petruzzi was looking to start a new business. A trip to California and subsequent visits to frozen yogurt stores in the Northeast convinced him he had found not only the next big thing, but a better approach to the next big thing.

The popularity of frozen yogurt, coupled with the growth potential he saw in the product, prompted him to create Yogo Factory. He opened his first location on July 20, 2011 in Galloway Township and opened his most recent store 20 days ago in Egg Harbor Township.

Now, the self-described entrepreneur – who earned degrees in biochemistry and business in 2002 from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey – is bringing Yogo Factory to the Ocean City Boardwalk. Already construction has begun at 838 Boardwalk, the former home of Stewart’s.

“Our intention is to do three stores,” said Petruzzi, CEO and president of Yogo Factory, adding that he is currently negotiating leases for two more spaces on the boardwalk. “Our vision is to have two self-serve and one full-service store on the boardwalk.”

America’s Greatest Family Resort, he said, is the perfect place for Yogo Factory.

“Our concept fits really well with Ocean City because it’s for families,” Petruzzi said. “We want people to come in and spend time with their families. I saw when I went to the other chains that there was nothing family-oriented. They were all geared to getting you in and out.”

Also, Petruzzi said, most of his competitors operate 800- to 1,000-square-foot stores, and the bigger chains offer a product where, in his opinion, “the quality is not so good.” In contrast, he said a typical Yogo Factory store is 3,000 square feet, seats 60 to 70 people, and offers large wrap-around booths where families can linger. As for quality, Yogo Factory uses real, fresh yogurt as opposed to powdered mixes, and produces its yogurt in $15,000 machines that are built on the East Coast, giving the yogurt a different consistency than that of the yogurt produced in “West Coast machines,” Petruzzi said.

Currently, there are 13 Yogo Factory stores under construction. All should be open by June, then another wave of stores will follow, Petruzzi said, noting he put $5 million into the project with the goal of having 20 stores open by the end of summer 2012. He said existing locations in Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, Ocean, Camden, Monmouth and Gloucester counties in New Jersey, as well as in Pennsylvania, have created more than 150 jobs.

Many Yogo Factory stores are located in towns where the residents are known to visit Ocean City, so there will already be a familiarity with the product when these people come to town in the summer, Petruzzi said.

Business has been booming. The Egg Harbor Township store served 12,000 sundaes in 20 days, Petruzzi said, surprising everyone but his wife, who pushed him to open the store because construction was complete and she saw no need to wait for warmer weather.

Petruzzi said the Ocean City Boardwalk stores will likely be open from April 1 to the first week of November. A give-away featuring $100,000 worth of free Yogo Factory T-shirts is planned for the debut of the Ocean City stores.

Customers can get a free ounce of frozen yogurt (49 cents an ounce) through various offers, including coupons and Facebook visits. Most stores offer 14 to 20 different flavors at a time, and introduce 10 to 12 new flavors weekly. Favorites like cake batter, red velvet, and New York cheesecake are among the eight to 10 flavors that are always offered. Petruzzi admitted his favorite, sweet coconut, is not among the most popular with customers, but his wife’s – cookies and cream – is.

In addition to frozen yogurt, which is lower in fat than ice cream and contains probiotics, Yogo Factory stores carry a line of sorbets, which Petruzzi described as “a soft, smooth water ice.” Watermelon, pomegranate, and mango tango are the top three sorbet flavors.

Franchise opportunities exist. A store in Somers Point, expected to open some time between March 1 and 10, will be Yogo Factory’s first franchise, Petruzzi said.

For more information, visit www.yogofactory.com.

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