Written by Marilou Giammona, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 30 August 2013 00:00
TCBY on Covert Avenue in Stewart Manor is officially open for business. The frozen yogurt store had a soft opening last month but celebrated its grand opening with much fanfare on Saturday, Aug. 17. For 20 lucky customers, the party will continue for an entire year.
“Giving free yogurt [for a year] to the first 20 people draws in a lot of people and creates a lot of excitement for the product,” said Carlos Jorge, who owns the store with his wife Helene. People were so excited to win free yogurt for a year, they started to line up in front of the store before 1 a.m. for an 11 a.m. opening. By dawn, stadium chairs, blankets, and tweens and teens clad in pajamas dotted the sidewalk in front of TCBY and neighboring storefronts along Covert Avenue.
A trio of local boys--Jack Ryan, Nick Kinckiner and Michael Farrell--helped spread the word about the contest in the days leading up to the grand opening. “Some of the local boys introduced themselves while we were under construction, and we put them to work,” Helene said. They handed out about 1,000 cards announcing the grand opening and contest. “The funniest thing is they didn’t know Walter Lorenzetti, who is [a regional operations manager] from TCBY corporate, and they rushed him and told him about TCBY. He was walking the neighborhood and they approached him and gave him a grand opening card,” she said, adding that the boys visit the store every day. “They are our best customers!” True fans of TCBY, two of the boys were among the group of pre-dawn customers who were lucky enough to get a bracelet, ensuring their reward of free fro-yo for a year.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony preceded the 11 a.m. opening. Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, Stewart Manor Mayor Gerard Tangredi, Stewart Manor Trustee Michael Onorato and Lorenzetti looked on as the Jorge’s son, Jamie, cut the ribbon, and bystanders sent confetti into the air. What followed was a mini-carnival inside the store, with face-painting, a clown, a yogurt-eating contest and a raffle. For each $5 cup of yogurt purchased, customers received a free raffle ticket. At 8 p.m., the Jorges raffled off two beach cruisers, two Beats by Dr. Dre headsets and two mini iPads.
“We’re excited to have TCBY in Stewart Manor,” said Lorenzetti. “Carlos and Helene are doing a real nice job working with the community and helping us increase the presence of TCBY in the northeast.” There are currently about a half dozen TCBY stores on Long Island, 50 in the northeast and 350 across the brand, he said. “We’ll probably, as a company, open up about 100 stores this year, and with the self-serve platform it’s grown very, very quickly.”
Lorenzetti credits the public’s “health consciousness” for the uptick in business. And for those who have dairy allergies, TCBY has joined forces with Silk almond-based products. “It’s a nondairy option for all TCBY customers, which is terrific,” Lorenzetti said. “It will be in the stores in the next two weeks [and] will become a core item for us.”
As for the Jorges, they are humbled by the support they’ve received. “We want to thank the community for great support because without them we would not even be able to be here,” Carlos said. “There’s been a lot of excitement. A lot of people are telling us that they needed something like this in the neighborhood.” Indeed, it’s quickly becoming a post-game/performance meeting spot. Baseball teams, lacrosse teams and even a theater group of “little mermaids” have celebrated in the store.
The Jorges currently have 12 part-time employees. “They’re great young adults, very personable, bright, fun to be around,” Helene said. “They greet everyone, offer samples and are very friendly … We’re a very friendly store.”