The frozen treat train has roared into the Three Village area, and one of the latest arrivals is Cool Monkey, slated to open in July.
Whereas other local dessert cafés concentrate on frozen yogurt, Cool Monkey will offer both frozen yogurt and ice cream. Owner Tracy Sweeney said location is key: Cool Monkey is located in the same Stony Brook shopping plaza as the movie theater and popular eateries such as and .
Sweeney, a Hauppauge mom of three who is also a certified teacher, said she got the idea while her family was on vacation in Virginia earlier this year. They found an ice cream shop close to the local movie theater, and Sweeney said she thought the location was a great one. And when they returned home, Sweeney – who said she had has always wanted to own a business – noticed a vacant space near the movie theater where a tutoring center used to be.
"It was our first choice in finding a place," she said. "It kind of came together based on that."
Since it's her first business, Sweeney said there have been challenges along the way.
"You definitely feel a little bit at a disadvantage not having a background in the industry," she said. "We’re really excited about it. I think our enthusiasm makes up for a lack of experience."
Cool Monkey will follow a self-serve model, charging 49 cents per ounce. At in Stony Brook and Port Jefferson, yogurt is also 49 cents per ounce, while also in Port Jefferson, charges 45 cents per ounce. It's too soon to tell how much frozen yogurt will cost at two other nearby cafés opening soon, including Wildberry Yogurt in East Setauket and Sweet Frog in Stony Brook.
But Sweeney said she isn't worried about the competition, saying the various cafés will probably be different enough from one another.
"I know the initial concept is similar in that it’s a self serve place. I think ours is going to be much more oriented to families, and there are people who don't like frozen yogurt," she said, referencing her own family. "... Half like frozen yogurt and half like ice cream. As a mom, I’m always bouncing around trying to please everyone. I think other moms can appreciate that."
The same logic can likely be applied in the opposite scenario. In with Port Jefferson Patch, Red Mango founder Dan Kim said not all people like ice cream, calling frozen yogurt "a fruit-forward meal that people like to eat when they crave yogurt and fruit, not ice cream or popsicles."
Unlike Red Mango and Sweet Frog, Cool Monkey is not a franchise.
"We looked into franchises but we really had a lot of our own ideas," Sweeney said. "We thought we would just try our own ideas, our own store."