The grand opening of a yogurt store in east Dearborn from 3-8 p.m. Wednesday will feature family activities, local celebrities preparing hot drinks like coffee for charity, and a special ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Sam Abbas founded Yogurtopia in December 2010, and his corporate-owned stores were located in west downtown Dearborn and Scottsdale, AZ. However, the new store being opened Sept. 23 at 6901 Schaefer Road by Dearborn Heights couple Abir and Haitham Mehanna will be the first in a chain of franchises that Yogurtopia is planning to add. The Mehannas frequently visited the flagship Yogurtopia location in west Dearborn.
“We are so excited to be joining the Yogurtopia family,” Abir Mehanna said. “We love the idea of healthy dessert, combined with great organic coffee choices and a fun atmosphere.
“We can’t wait to bring the Yogurtopia experience to our own community,” Mehanna said.
While the new franchise locations are to be custom-designed to fit the communities they serve, the menu ingredients in each unique-looking Yogurtopia’s franchise will remain the same: self-serve frozen yogurt (froyo) and toppings, crepes, 100-percent organic coffee and expresso, 100-percent organic smoothies and fresh-baked goods.
Besides Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr. snipping the ribbon at 4 p.m.: said Adele Piper, co-founder of Siren-PR; celebrities from the community and social media will also try their hand at being “guest baristas,” workers creating drinks in Yogurtopia’s line of coffees and cafés, making different kinds of lattes. The proceeds from their sales will go to benefit Hope Now for ALS.
Family activities in the grand opening will include music by DJ Ehab, face-painting, and kids meeting Miley (debuting as Yogurtopia’s pink cow mascot). Any classes, school groups or teams who come out to the grand opening are encouraged to take a group photo, and upload it to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with the hash tag #WelcomeToYogurtopia. These group selfies will be entered to win free frozen yogurt for a year, which will be awarded the next day (details will be posted at the grand opening event).
Also, Yogurtopia will be offering a buy-one get-one-free deal for all frozen yogurt orders during this grand opening. Piper said that following Wednesday’s grand opening in east Dearborn, Yogurtopia will opening its second franchise in Brighton later this fall.
The frozen yogurt menu Abbas has developed includes non-dairy options such as vegan or dairy-free yogurts. Yogurtopia “offers about anything as toppings,” said Piper in listing various fruits, chocolates, nuts or granola as ingredients for toppings.
Abbas promotes his frozen yogurt as being packed with 10 times the probiotics found in other frozen yogurts. According to Piper, some so-called “frozen yogurts” use heat-treated yogurt, which kills the live and active cultures, or they may simply add in cultures to the mix along with acidifiers, and skip the fermentation step all together.
In order to qualify for NYA’s Live & Active Culturesseal, she revealed, frozen yogurt must be a product made by fermenting pasteurized milk (can include skim milk and powdered skim milk, plus other ingredients), using traditional yogurt cultures, until the proper acidity is reached. Many manufacturers, according to their unique recipes, will then mix this (the “yogurt” component) with a pasteurized ice cream mix of milk, cream, and sugar, plus stabilizers or other ingredients needed for desired consistency.
This frozen yogurt base mix can then be blended with fruit or other ingredients and then frozen. The freezing process does not kill any significant amount of the cultures—in fact, during the freezing process the cultures go into a dormant state, but when eaten and returned to a warm temperature within the body, they again become active and are capable of providing all the benefits of cultures in a refrigerated yogurt product.
To keep business going through the winter, Piper added, Yogurtopia provides coffee, as well as baked goods like crepes, pies (not with traditional fillings, but filled with yogurt), cookie froyo sandwiches, muffins and cupcakes. Yogurtopia can also provide custom-made designed baked goods, Piper said, as well as taking advance orders for the dessert portions of catering for events.
While starting Yogurtopia, Abbas also was a graduate from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program. Early graduates of the Detroit program launched in 2013 have outperformed peers in 20 other U.S. Markets in revenue and jobs growth over six months, and Detroit program graduates are outperforming the national average and program participants in other regions, according to the 10,000 Small Businesses associate director at Wayne State University (about 125 business owners have completed the program with 31 more expected to complete the fifth round or the program in October).
To find Yogurtopia in your area, visit www.yogurtopia.com, or follow it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.