Advertisement
  1. Business

Cupcakes, frozen yogurt shops aim to jump-start faded trend

Times files (2008)
Published May 20, 2014

A few years ago, we couldn't get enough cupcakes and frozen yogurt. Shops were popping up all over the place. Having frosted cupcakes at corporate events was fun and hip. Froyo quickly became a cool, new word.

Today, that obsession has dimmed. No one eats cupcakes or frozen yogurt every day or even every week. Local stores such as the Cupcake Spot in Tampa and Pinkberry, the froyo of Hollywood stars, closed.

But that hasn't stopped a few entrepreneurs from jumping into the market with new concepts.

Sweet Arleen's and Yogurtland — both based in California — are opening stores in the Tampa Bay area. Sweet Arleen's cupcake shop is looking for franchisees. Yogurtland just opened a store in Citrus Park and has plans for several others between here and Orlando.

A banker turned baker, Arleen Scavone founded Sweet Arleen's in Los Angeles in 2009 and is a three-time winner on Food Network's Cupcake Wars. She has one corporate store and eight franchised locations in the works.

Over the next five years, Scavone hopes to open 100 stores in 20 U.S. markets. It's an aggressive goal, but one she believes is obtainable, even amid less appetite for the decadent desserts.

Ask why and she points to the banking industry. For years, there was a bank on every corner. Then the housing market tanked, putting many banks out of business. The strongest remained and, over time, got better.

"We've done the same," she said. "We're very confident in our brand. We got a proven model."

Sweet Arleen's sells about 10,000 cupcakes a week in L.A., a much bigger market than ours with seemingly deeper pockets for gourmet luxuries. It also sells bread pudding, a that isn't as widely available dessert. Regular cupcakes sell for $3.50; minis start at a $1.

By comparison, Gigi's Cupcakes, a top competitor, sells about 6,000 to 7,000 a week at its store in South Tampa, which is considered quite busy. A manager said selling 10,000 might be possible, but it's certainly not the norm.

Despite some cupcake stores closing, Scavone says there's room for a concept focused on taste, quality and customer service.

Jack Suleiman agrees. This month he and his brother, David, opened Yogurtland along Gunn Highway across from the Westfield Citrus Park mall, ironically in an old Pinkberry yogurt shop that went out of business.

Suleiman says Yogurtland has much more to offer than Pinkberry, which also had a location at WestShore Plaza that closed. Yogurtland tastes better, costs less and has more flavors, usually 16 on a given day. Much like at Yogurtology, customers serve themselves and add their own toppings, the latest trend in froyo.

"I know there are a lot of yogurt shops, but the yogurt does make a difference, and with us you'll definitely know the difference," he said, noting that even in a yogurt-heavy place like California, Yogurtland has done well.

Suleiman plans to open eight Yogurtlands in Central Florida, including three in the bay area. One along Ulmerton Road in Largo is owned by another franchisee.

The Citrus Park store celebrates its grand opening May 31 with free yogurt, face painting, balloons and a DJ. Suleiman hopes the event raises awareness of the brand and attracts customers from the nearby mall.

So far, he said a lot of people are surprised to see another yogurt shop in that spot.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Jeffrey D. Senese was inaugurated as Saint Leo University's 10th president. Pictured, Monsignor Robert Morris (left), Class of 1979, and a member of the board of trustees, and D. Dewey Mitchell, chair of the university’s board of trustees, bestow the presidential medallion on Senese. Renee Gerstein and William Speer, Saint Leo University
    New and notes on local businesses
  2. Dr. Manjusri Vennamaneni (center) was awarded Businesswoman of the Year by the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce. With her are Matt Romeo, President of PrimeCare (left), and Dr. Pariksith Singh, CEO, Access Health Care Physicians. Vince Vanni
    News and notes on local businesses
  3. Tampa Bay Lighting host a watch party on the beach at the Tradewinds resort on St. Pete Beach in February. LUIS SANTANA  |  Tampa Bay Times
    TradeWinds is the biggest resort in Pinellas County.
  4. A view of the downtown St. Petersburg skyline and waterfront from over Tampa Bay.
    The news that the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation wants to change its name to include “Tampa Bay” has been met with resistance.
  5. The Whole Coffee Company makes Dunkin’-branded Coffee Thins as well as Tim Hortons Double Double bars and its own Whole Coffee Company-branded nudge coffee bars. (Photo courtesy The Whole Coffee Company) The Whole Coffee Company
    The Whole Coffee Company, which is based in Miami, was previously known as Tierra Nueva Fine Cocoa. ProspEquity Partners of Tampa owns a majority stake in Whole Coffee.
  6. The Corona Cove opens as the Florida Aquarium's new outdoor bar. The beer company is pledging continued donations to aid conservation efforts. Florida Aquarium
    The beer company also has pledged donations to aid conservation efforts.
  7. The Triton cantaloupe, created with help from Eckerd College. Eckerd College
    The St. Petersburg college teamed up with a central Florida plant breeder to create the Triton cantaloupe.
  8. FILE - In this May 14, 2019, fiel photo, containers are piled up at a port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. China’s economic growth slowed to a 26-year low in the latest quarter as a tariff war with Washington weighed on exports and auto sales and other domestic activity weakened. The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 6.2 percent in the three months ending in September, down from the previous quarter’s 6 percent, data showed Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. AP
    Growth in the world’s second-largest economy slipped to 6% in the three months ending in September, down from the previous quarter’s 6.2%, data showed Friday.
  9. Ryan Cummings, 23, left, and Alex Frey, 25, both of Tampa, rent Spin electric scooters from a corral located along Zack Street in May. St. Petersburg hopes to soon launch it's own scooter program. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The city wants to avoid other cities’ mistakes. Scooters will not be allowed on sidewalks and must be parked in designated corrals.
  10. Sam's Club fulfillment center manager Nick Barbieri explains to a shopper how the new Scan & Go shop works at 5135 S Dale Mabry Highway. SARA DINATALE  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The shuttered store has been reinvented and debuted to the community.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement