SweetFrog leaps into business

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — SweetFrog is hopping.
Salisbury’s first self-serve frozen yogurt shop opened quietly Monday near Chick-fil-A on East Innes Street in Towne Creek Commons. But it didn’t take long for word to spread.
Dozens of people stopped in Wednesday over the lunch hour to choose from 24 flavors and 61 toppings. Some knew the drill, while others were froyo rookies.
Customers grab a cup, fill it up, add toppings and then place it on a scale at the cash register.
They pay 39 cents per ounce. The average dessert weighs about 10 ounces, or $3.90, but some people can pay as much as $7 for a bowl brimming with yogurt, sprinkles, brownies and more.
Jenni Catrell and her mother Patti said the treat was delicious.
“We’ve been waiting for it to open,” Jenni Catrell said. “We had yogurt for lunch.”
Another yogurt shop, Swirl It Up, is under construction in the Innes Street Market near Lowe’s. Swirl It Up plans to open soon into the vacant space next door to Capriano’s restaurant.
Mike Sellitto ate leaning against his car outside SweetFrog.
“It has good flavor, and it’s very refreshing,” he said.
Sellitto, who knew about SweetFrog after eating at the Kannapolis location, said he’ll probably stop by the Salisbury shop once a week.
A fast-growing company based in Richmond, Va., SweetFrog has also opened in Concord and Mooresville, as well as dozens of other North Carolina cities.
Many people said they were eating at SweetFrog because it’s healthy. Karina Almanza said she’d eaten fast food for breakfast and wanted to make a better choice for lunch.
She topped her yogurt with berries, kiwi, pineapple and strawberries.
While froyo enjoys a reputation as a healthier alternative to ice cream, it doesn’t take much for a bowl of frozen yogurt to top 500 calories, especially when customers prepare it themselves.
The smallest bowl at SweetFrog easily holds two servings. One serving, listed as four ounces on the nutrition labels, ranges from 80 to 140 calories and zero to five grams of fat. The yogurt comes in nonfat, low fat, nondairy and no sugar added.
While the self-serve topping bar features healthy options like fresh fruit and nuts, it also offers caramel, chocolate, peanut butter and cake in a variety of tempting forms.
Charles Dunlap prepared a bowl to take to his sister but passed on the sweet treat himself.
“I’m pretty health conscious,” he said, but admitted he would be back soon for his own cup.
Pfeiffer University students Haley Gourdie and Andrea Archila said SweetFrog is their favorite froyo chain because the yogurt tastes just as good but costs less than competitors.
Co-manager Heidi King said business has been steady since Monday, with after-school hours especially busy. SweetFrog employs 23 people and is still accepting applications.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.