Sally Van Cura was out to dinner and a movie with her two grandsons last Friday when they decided to make a stop at the new Cherry Berry frozen yogurt shop for a special treat.
“There’s almost too much!” said the New Lenox resident of the flavor and topping options at the self-serve yogurt bar. From peanuts to strawberries to gummy worms, her grandsons Bobby, 10, and Dominik, 9, carefully evaluated their options before filling their cups to the brim.
They were enjoying the new shop just as owner Jane Roehr hoped they would, stopping in during a family outing for a sweet snack.
“Kids can make some of the greatest concoctions,” said the former teacher during a phone interview from her South Dakota home.
With her husband, Ron, and their daughter, Alison Stogsdill of Chicago, Roehr is the latest business owner to set her sights on the frozen yogurt market in Orland Park.
The Cherry Berry franchise, which had a soft opening on April 26, is the fourth self-serve frozen yogurt store to open in Orland Park in less than a year. All four shops are located in a 1.5-mile span in the La Grange Road corridor. The sweet and tasty treat has grown in popularity in recent years as consumers have taken a greater interest in eating healthy.
Roehr said she knows there is competition out there, but her plan is just to maintain focus on her own shop.
“You just want to do a good job and you just don’t worry about your competition,” she said. “To me, that’s not a real big concern.”
A few blocks down the street, Red Mango owner Travis Tuomey said he thinks this is only the beginning of what will become a crowded frozen yogurt business in the area.
“They’re opening up everywhere,” he said. “They’re about to attack me in La Grange.”
The Oak Lawn resident opened his first Red Mango franchise in La Grange in 2010 when the frozen treat was just becoming popular in the Midwest. He opened his Orland Park shop in November and said new shops are opening up around both of his locations.
Tuomey formerly owned Millie’s Ice Cream shop in Oak Lawn in the 1990s, and when he noticed the increasing popularity of frozen yogurt on the east and west coasts, he thought it would be a good business move.
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“When I wanted to open up my next business, I thought that yogurt might be a more healthy alternative than ice cream,” he said.
More competition will only encourage him to better his own store for his customers and he thinks Red Mango’s product will help him outperform his competitors.
“I chose Red Mango for a reason,” he said. “I personally believe in the product and I think they offer the best quality yogurt.”
But of course, his competitors feel the same way about their own products.
Fade Kashkeesh of Orland Park opened a TCBY franchise as a family business in June. He already operated the Mrs. Fields store in Orland Square Mall and decided to try and catch a piece of the growing frozen yogurt business.
“There was a huge buzz all over, nationwide with frozen yogurt,” he said. “We tested all of them out, and we liked the TCBY.”
He thinks the name recognition of TCBY helps attract customers and that being the first shop to open in Orland Park also might give him an edge.
“We’re getting repeat customers, new customers,” he said. “So it’s definitely a great response.”
But he, too, thinks the market will only become more crowded in the future.
He opened in June, and then Trugurt, which sells frozen yogurt, smoothies and teas, opened down the street in August, according to a Trugurt employee. A manager or owner did not return messages seeking comment for this story.
So far, Kashkeesh said he hasn’t noticed a negative effect on his sales since the other shops have opened, but more competition means he’ll continue to push his store in an attempt to be better than the rest.
“Everyone always jumps on the hot trends, but it just basically comes down to who has the better product and who is giving great customer service,” he said.