Puerto Rico’s frozen yogurt market is about to get a bit more crowded when California-based Menchie’s introduces its creamy delights at its first local shop slated to open before year’s end in Guaynabo, News is my Business has confirmed.
Franchisees Alba López and Abner Rivera, a married couple who has been running a manufacturing plant in Naranjito for the past 12 years, have landed the exclusive rights to expand the yogurt shop’s presence in Puerto Rico.
López confirmed Tuesday that four more stores are in the works for the next five years in the Condado sector of San Juan, Caguas, Ponce and Mayagüez. Each store should create 10 part-time jobs.
“My husband, my children and I love dessert, and during a recent trip my boys made to visit relatives in Orlando, they went to Menchie’s and told us about their experience,” López said. “We decided to go taste for ourselves and we probably went to the two locations nearby at least 12 times. We tasted every flavor and went at different times of the day, studying the store.”
The wildly popular Menchie’s concept offers yogurt lovers an interactive experience through a self-serve bar. Customers grab a cup or a waffle bowl, take their pick from seven frozen yogurt machines — each dispensing three different flavors — pile on toppings that range from cookies to fresh fruit, and pay for their treat based on weight.
Because the concept is different from existing competitors, López is confident that the stores will find local success.
“My husband and I took it upon ourselves to visit many yogurt shops, but the quality and flavor at Menchie’s is totally different. Competition is good, but our difference is the self-serve experience,” she said.
Opening a Menchie’s store requires an investment of between $340,000 and $400,000, which covers the yogurt machines, the store build-out, the franchise fee, and restaurant equipment, among other start-up expenses, according to information posted on Menchie’s website.
However, López explained that because the Puerto Rico stores will likely open in existing locales, the start-up costs should be lower.
“That was one of the things that we had to present to Menchie’s corporate in California. They usually require franchisees to build a new store, but we explained to them that we have plenty of empty commercial space on the island, and we were sure we could find locations that were suitable and that met their requirements,” said López, adding Menchie’s has specific conditions for franchisees in terms of location, as stores must be close to schools or principal roads.
“We’ve been looking for locales since February,” she said, adding that Menchie’s also requires stores to range from 1,200 to 3,000 square-feet.
The yogurt chain’s upcoming debut is in line with the growth plans disclosed last week, when Menchie’s executives announced the opening of the 100th store in its third year of franchising and fourth year of existence. Fourteen of those stores are located throughout Florida, a destination Puerto Rican travelers are drawn to, to go visit family or the amusement parks.
“Menchie’s offers an unparalleled store experience which creates lasting memories by making every guest smile — and this has helped us expand to 100 stores worldwide,” said Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s global headquarters. “In 2011, we’ve opened nearly 40 stores already and plan to open about another 30 before the end of the year.”
“Reaching the century mark in three short years clearly confirms the undeniable craving for Menchie’s and we’ll see that result in our reaching 250 stores in the next 12 months,” he said.
A typical Menchie’s operation generates an average of $1 million in annual sales.