Sweet, creamy and quirky competition for frozen yogurt customers is coming soon to Charlottesville. Cups Frozen Yogurt is slated to open at Barracks Road Shopping Center sometime next month.
Cups offers about two dozen frozen yogurt flavors and about 50 fresh toppings. The shop will join three businesses in a recently constructed wing of the shopping center that fronts Emmet Street.
In 2010, the company opened its first location in Clifton, N.J. Cups was created and is operated and managed by The Briad Group, a 27-year-old hospitality company, Cups co-founder Rick Barbrick said in an email.
As part of The Briad Group, Cups shops are in good company. Briad is the largest TGI Friday’s franchisee in the United States and is also a licensed franchisee for Wendy’s, Marriott and Hilton. Barbrick said the Charlottesville market has everything Cups is looking for.
“We look at overall demographics [young to old], around large universities, high schools and families. We look for lifestyle and destination venues which pull in a lot of people. And, yes, Charlottesville has everything we are looking for,” he said.
The stores typically employ 10 to 15 people.
Selling an experience
“Anyone can sell frozen yogurt — we sell the experience,” Barbrick continued. “We took our own fun twist, incorporated energetic club dance music, a lounge-type design and cast members with infectiously fun personalities and added a frozen yogurt treat. It’s the complete experience that gives us that edgy vibe versus an everyday yogurt bar or ice cream shop experience.”
Part of the Cups experience, according to media reports, is young, attractive female employees. Business Insider, The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed have called Cups the Hooters of frozen yogurt.
For the uninitiated, the Hooters model — pairing burgers, wings and beer with flirty service by pretty women in a beach-themed environment — has been a soaring success. Their model has spawned countless imitators and some detractors. But Barbrick stands by the Cups concept.
“People who think the approach is anything other than wholesome young people working in a fun, high-energy environment are mistaken,” Barbrick said, adding that he’s happy to have his two teenage daughters, who also helped to develop the brand, work in that environment.
This month’s featured flavors are red velvet cake, watermelon sorbet and chocolate-covered strawberry.
Meanwhile, SweetFrog, located in Barracks Road’s North Wing (as well as other area locations), takes a faith-based approach to its cool treats, said company spokesman James Denison.
The company was founded in 2009 by Derek Cha: “A man of faith, Derek used the acronym FROG (Fully Rely on God) to help name his brand and created goodwill ambassadors Scoop and Cookie to bring smiles to young customers’ faces,” Denison said in an email.
SweetFrog has 320 domestic and international locations and also sees Charlottesville as a good place for business.
“When we’re considering opening a store, we look for a well-rounded market with plenty of young families, as well as a high density of nearby schools and churches,” Denison said. “We feel Charlottesville is a great market to expand our brand and introduce customers to the SweetFrog experience!”
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