DEARBORN – When Yogurtopia opened its doors in early June on Michigan Avenue, it became the newest yogurt shop in town. However, what many local residents may not be aware of is that Yogurtopia is a franchise that was established in 2010 by Sam Abbass, a former Dearborn resident, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Having owned and operated three locations in Arizona, the Abbass family has established a successful formula that they were certain would transition over smoothly to Dearborn, where they had planned to take their franchise next. In 2011, they began contract negations to open up a fourth location at the corner of Michigan Ave. and Military Street in the City. However, due to ownership issues, that contract was not finalized until 2013.
Now, less than a month after opening their doors, the self-serve yogurt shop has already gained some positive word-of-mouth reviews, due, in part, to the variety of options it offers. With over 16 regular flavors of yogurt, and additional seasonal flavors, as well as low-fat, sugar free and gluten free options, Yogurtopia has options for just about anyone with a sweet tooth.
Some of their most popular flavors include the oatmeal cookie, sea salt caramel, red velvet cake and pomegranate raspberry. They also offer kid-friendly options, such as cookies and cream, caramel turtle and birthday cake. However, those selections wouldn’t be complete without the wide variety of toppings that are offered at the location. Some of the 65 topping options include gram crackers, various nuts, a variety of cereals, fresh fruit that is offered daily and strawberry juice poppers.
Yogurt isn’t the only option on their menu either. The shop also offers fresh, healthy smoothies and a full coffee bar that includes espressos, lattes and iced coffees. Their coffee is also slow roasted, which is healthier for customers who may suffer from acid reflux, or heart burn. Freshly baked cupcakes and cookies also fare well on their menu.
Yogurtopia also offers crepes; a light French-style pancake that includes various ingredients, like strawberries, bananas, chocolate and pecans. Ali Abbass, one of the brothers who operate the shop on a daily basis, says that they are preparing to introduce breakfast crepes during Ramadan and will introduce a specialty manushi crepe. The shop plans on staying open until 3 a.m. during the holy month to cater to the Muslim community.
“We’ve set it up so that people can feel comfortable. We want our customers to come in, enjoy their coffee and yogurt and relax by the fireplace, where they can enjoy our spacious seating,” Ali Abbass says.
Plenty of room exists for customers who want to unwind at the location and take a breather. The shop can accommodate up to 50 seats on the inside and offers standing room for another 50 customers. Outdoor seating is also available and can accommodate up to 25 people, where customers can enjoy West Dearborn’s fine scenery on a warm sunny day.
Ali Abbass says that one of his biggest priorities is maintaining Yogurtopia’s cleanliness. He personally stays after store hours to clean the shop’s eight yogurt machines every night. “A typical yogurt shop may only clean their machines every once in a while,” he says.
Last week, The Arab American News mentioned Yogurtopia in an article about business trends, acknowledging that YogurTown, located just down the street from Yogurtopia, first opened its doors in January. Mike Nasser, owner of YogurTown, had also developed the concept for his shop while he was in Arizona, where the first Yogurtopia was established.
The Abbass family says that they are good friends with Nasser and insist that no feelings of animosity should exist between both parties. Ali says that the community should not assume the two places are similar either, and that there is room for both of them to co-exist.
“There’s enough business for all of us. If there are 100 hair salons in Dearborn, you can have three yogurt places. You just have to be able to differentiate yourself from everyone else by providing healthy alternatives and great service. If you can do that, you will be successful,” Ali stated.
Yogurtopia plans on expanding their healthy alternative options as well. They are preparing to introduce Bubble Tea, an Asian-style drink that is already popular in cities like Ann Arbor and Royal Oak. Ali says that he looks forward to building a strong, long-lasting relationship with his customers.
“We’ve had a great response from our customers. They really appreciate the healthy, clean environment that we provide. Parents thank us, and kids come up to hug us. We want to stay up on the latest trends, so that customers can feel the excitement and ambiance of this place when they come in,” Ali added.
Yogurtopia, located at 1000 S Military St., and is open Sunday-Thursday, from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m.-12 a.m. For more information, visit their website at: www.yogurtopia.com.