March 28, 2012

Yogurt Crazy Opening Draws Fro-yo Fanatics

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Students and community members with empty bellies and creamy cravings flocked to 40 College Ave. on Wednesday afternoon for the opening of Yogurt Crazy, a Long-Island based, self-serve frozen yogurt store that has set up shop in the former home of Johnny O’s.

Similar in style to national chains Pinkberry and Red Mango, Yogurt Crazy sports a bright pastel interior and a wall lined with self-serve machines.

Jim Brown, the manager of Yogurt Crazy, said that he was pleased by the level of business throughout the day.

“So far, with all the customers we’ve had, we’ve been perceived really well,” Brown said. “I can’t even tell you how many people stopped by to ask if we were open even before we were ready.”

Despite the high volume of customers on Wednesday afternoon, Yogurt Crazy employees said they faced setbacks that delayed the opening of the shop until later in the day. When the shop opened at noon, cashiers were unable to accept credit cards due to technical issues.

“It’s been crazy… I was here past 12 last night and came back at eight getting things ready,” Brown said.

Brown said that the Yogurt Crazy employees were still working out how best to arrange the new location to expedite the process of getting yogurt and checking out at the registers.

“The flow seems to be okay for now, but we’ll just have to wait and see after we get our big rush,” Brown said.

In addition to frozen yogurt, Yogurt Crazy is selling cookies, smoothies and bulk candy to give customers a wider variety of ways to satisfy their sweet tooth.

“It’s nice to see a new business in Collegetown, especially something that could be popular with students as well as faculty and locals,” said Katie White ’14, who added that she planned to visit the store soon.

While Jason’s Conveience Store, located at 301 College Ave., also serves frozen yogurt, Yogurt Crazy is currently the only place in Collegetown that focuses on the frozen dessert. However, Brown said that there are other stores that plan to open frozen yogurt shops in downtown Ithaca in the next few months.

But, he added, “we’ve kind of beat them to the punch in opening.”

Many students, who enjoyed flavors ranging from raspberry pomegranate to cappuccino on the warm day, said they were happy to see the store open.

“It’s nice that Collegetown now has a healthier option for dessert,” Heather Murray law said.

After settling into its new location, Yogurt Crazy is planning to have operating hours from 10 p.m. to two a.m. to allow students to quell their late-night cravings.

Final decisions on evening store hours will be determined by management’s evaluation of weekend foot traffic, Brown said.

“I’m really excited about the Yogurt Crazy opening. I think it’s a great addition to Collegetown, and I think it’ll be an awesome place to go for a late-night snack,” Katie Mehary ’11 said.

The store, is the fifth store to open in the family-owned and -operated chain based out of Suffolk County, Long Island.

Brendan Hackett, one of the store’s owners, told The Sun in November that he and his family decided to open their fifth shop in Ithaca in part because of his family’s ties to the area and what he identified as the need for more diversified social options in Collegetown.

“I love Ithaca. I went to school at Ithaca College, and my father and sister went to Cornell,” Hackett said. “We were looking for a place to open a new store and decided Ithaca would be the perfect place.”

Hackett also noted that the recent string of bar-closings in Collegetown — Dino’s also closed this summer — opened the door for Yogurt Crazy and other establishments to stake their claim in the area.

“It seems like the bars keep disappearing and landlords don’t want to put bars back in there due to liability and noise,” Hackett said. “We wanted to give people a place to hang out that was upbeat but not too noisy.”

The site’s landlord, who would not be identified by name, added that as a result of the new yogurt store, Avramis Realty will likely raise the rents of its apartments at 408 College Ave. for the 2013 to 2014 year.

Original Author: Tajwar Mazhar