By MOLLY TIPPEN
It’s pink and green and bright white, and promises to be a destination for residents who shop at the Vitale Plaza strip mall at the Van Dyke and 25 Mile corridor in Shelby Township.
And despite its friendly, relaxing environment, being the first Michigan franchisee of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt is the result of what has been a long process for Lou and Jyl Messina; Shelby Township residents who have put tremendous faith – not to mention money – into going into the frozen yogurt business.
“We’re so excited to have the store open,” said Jyl Messina, who will operate the store on a day-to-day basis with the help of her husband, Lou, who will keep his full-time job with a large computer firm.
“We looked at a lot of different companies when we were considering franchising; we were both really impressed with Menchie’s business plan, and its product.”
Menchie’s is an Encino, Calif.-based purveyor of frozen yogurt – a sector that already has many inhabitants. But Menchie’s approach is different than that of its competitors. Yogurt is sold by the ounce – and customers are free to pick from 14 rotating flavors of 140 proprietary flavors. The flavors are as conventional as vanilla and chocolate, and as unusual as pina collada tart and kiwi strawberry sorbet.
Offerings include those that are dairy and sugar free, to meet customers’ dietary needs, and customers can also choose from several toppings, including in-season, fresh fruits.
The store opened in late May, and since Memorial Day, business has been brisk, said Lou Messina.
“The response has been tremendous,” he said. “I never knew people could be so supportive of someone else that opened a small business, but the community has been great.”
Choosing Shelby Township was easy enough for the Messinas – they live a mile away from Vitale Plaza. But to be successful in business, location is everything.
“We thought this was a great location for us because there’s Vince & Joe’s – which does a huge amount of business – and there’s a gym,” Jyl Messina said. “People can stop here to relax and enjoy themselves after shopping or after a workout. Itís the perfect place.”
As hot as the commercial business environment is in northern Macomb County, one fact that sealed the deal for Vitale Plaza was the dearth of places to get a fast treat, said Jyl Messina.
To secure the franchise, the Messinas traveled to Encino for several weeks to take part in Menchie’s traning program – which prepared them for everything from staffing their location to food safety to customer relations, Lou Messina said.
“They’re really interested in choosing the right people as franchisees; they want to make sure a person is a good fit for their organization,” he said. “They taught us everything we needed to know to make this business successful.”
The Messinas were pleasantly surprised that the executives at Menchie’s were interested in the Michigan market, given all of the negative economic news that comes out of the mitten state.
“They were looking for the right opportunity to open in Michigan,” Lou Messina said.
Prior to opening, the Messinas spent several hours overseeing construction at the site, and hiring employees to staff the location. During this process, the new business owners wanted to make sure they hired people that would provide superior service.
“We see people whom come here as guests,” said Lou Messina. “That’s how we want them to be treated while they’re here.”
In the days since opening, the Messinas and their staff have fielded a steady stream of customers that have kept them busy ñ but exhilarated.
“It’s been busy every single night,” said Jyl Messina. “We hope that continues well into the future.”
Copyright 2012, theoaklandpress.com
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