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The Sweet Side of Healthy Eating

Written by Scott Costello

At Sweet Frog Premium Yogurt, you’re guaranteed to find smiling faces—and not just from the happy children enjoying healthy, delicious frozen treats.

The staff at this neighborhood sweet stop is all smiles when a child walks through their doors—something owners David and Colleen Rose pride their blossoming business on.

“We love kids, and we always try to cater to them—sometimes even more so than the adults,” Colleen said. “A lot of other shops will immediately look for the adults, but we’ve found that if the kids are happy, that makes the parents happy.”

The couple’s overwhelming love for children, as well as their extensive experience in the food service industry, is what led them to open their very own frozen yogurt business July 9. Before relocating from Richmond, Va., where the headquarters of the franchise resides, the couple heard of the rapidly growing progress the other stores had seen and realized the promising opportunity for their family.

Perhaps one of the most successful aspects of the chain is the balance of both healthy and tasty food. The shop is equipped with seven self-serving stations with two flavors for each machine. Each flavor is conveniently broken down on a display stating nutritional facts, like sugar amounts, allergens and grams of fat.

David and Colleen said their menu offers something for literally anyone. Providing serving sizes that hold 12, 16 and 24 ounces, most of the 80 flavors in the selection have substantially low sugar amounts. Diabetics can enjoy three flavors entirely sugar free, and a new strawberry- kiwi sorbet has been added for lactose intolerant customers. Nearly every flavor served is completely non-fat.

The flavor selection provides everything from cake batter and red velvet to Georgia peach and peanut butter. And with the holidays approaching, the list of flavors has recently expanded, adding seasonal options like peppermint, Irish mint, ginger bread, pumpkin pie, eggnog and a slew of other holiday favorites.

All of the fruits used as toppings, like strawberries, kiwi, raspberries and strawberries, are purchased locally, and all of the food served is continuously being prepared by the staff, guaranteeing only the freshest produce. Alongside the fruit, you’ll find other healthy topping options like walnuts, granola, cereal and almonds. And farther down the line is usually what catches the adolescent eyes—colorful gummy bears, heaping buckets of candy bars and yummy cookies.

“It’s yogurt so it’s better for you, but it still tastes like ice cream,” Colleen said. “That’s what really sets us apart. Other shops have ‘sherbety,’ thicker textures, and ours eats like soft-serve ice cream. You would honestly think you’re just eating ice cream.”

“From what we hear, we’re also less expensive than our competitors,” David added. “I think we bring value, and right now with the way things are, who doesn’t want value? We bring family-oriented fun in an environment where [customers] want to go and hang out and not dread to go and hang out with kids.”

Aside from the product tasting better than any other they had tried, the Rose family ultimately favored the kid-friendly model of the Sweet Frog franchise. With bright green and pink color schemes, and friendly, bug-eyed frogs as its icon, Sweet Frog is a cheery, upbeat oasis for both children and adults.

With an already expanding list of “regulars,” Colleen and David said some families have already filled their customer card, which is part of its “any size punch card program.” The program allows customers with 10 punches to fill any size cup with as much ice cream as they choose and receive a 100-percent discount.

“Each family gets one card, so the whole family has fun with it,” Colleen said. “It’s like meeting a challenge.”

Searching for a business that would allow them to balance time between work and time as a couple and family, with their 8-year-old daughter Amelia, the Roses narrowed down five locations they were willing to relocate to open their own Sweet Frog.

“We chose Gainesville because I’ve always wanted to live in Florida,” David said. “I love the weather and thought Gainesville would be a smart move because it’s centralized in the state; we’re an hour and a half from either coast. It was very inviting—not to mention the major college football scene.”

And now with three Sweet Frogs in the state of Florida, the Rose family is looking to expand their Gainesville business even further.

“We don’t want to stop with one,” David said. “We would like to grow with the Gainesville area and possibly have more units, but that’s looking down the road.”

About the author

Scott Costello