There's a woman who calls the store each day asking if they're serving coconut that day. Another has called from Middle Island begging them to open a store in that town. Each day, co-owner and manager Kerri Hynes said, brings a new experience. It's all part of opening a new business, she said.
That new business is Sweet Frog in Stony Brook, the third in a series of frozen yogurt franchises to open on Long Island over the past month. Its other locations are in and .
"It’s been a great experience, all in all," Hynes said. "Scary and exciting at the same time."
Sweet Frog opened June 30 and stands in a 1,050-square-foot space on Route 25A , which moved just a few doors down to the west.
Hynes partnered with her brother, Patrick Piase, and Richie Shire to open the Stony Brook and Hauppauge locations – which are only the start of the Sweet Frog presence on Long Island, they say. Piase also owns a handful of Sweet Frog locations in Virginia, where the company is based.
Sweet Frog will offer more than 100 flavors (though not all at once, of course) and dozens of toppings to choose from. The store also has a "Frequent Frogger" loyalty card for returning customers.
Neighboring business owner Scott Koppelman – who sold frozen yogurt back in the pre-Jake-Starr-Café days of Strawberry Fields – said: "I know frozen yogurt, and I'll vouch for it."
And during a recent trip to Sweet Frog, Setauket resident Michael Ayer said his kids, 13-year-old Isabella, 11-year-old Liliana 11, 10-year-old Wil, and 9-year-old Michaela, can vouch for it, too.
"We always used to go to Red Mango or Ralph's, but now I never hear about that from the kids anymore," Ayer said. "Now it's simply 'Let's go to Sweet Frog,' even when we're all the way by the mall."
Besides Red Mango, nearby frozen dessert cafés include Yogo Delish in Port Jefferson Village, which also sells food, and Cool Monkey in Stony Brook, which also sells regular ice cream. But Hynes said she is not worried about competition.
"We carry different yogurt, different taste," she said. "I don’t think we’re worried."
Red Mango CEO Dan Kim said in an email to Patch that he feels the health value of its frozen yogurt separates it from the rest, along with other products such as its "Frozen Coffee Chillers." "The embrace we feel from customers for healthier food options at Red Mango continues to fuel our mission to be more than a frozen yogurt destination unlike any other place," he said.
Long Island has been a key growth market for Red Mango, which is close to opening its 200th store, according to Kim. Sweet Frog isn't far behind, with plans to open 180 stores within the year, according to Shire.
There have been other challenges, though. Hynes acknowledged that the parking lot, which Sweet Frog shares with Thai restaurant and has space for fewer than two dozen vehicles, leaves something to be desired.
"We’re trying to work with the landlord possibly to expand it," she said. "We knew that was something from the getgo. There was no shock there."
But it might not turn into too much of an issue, with the amount of foot traffic they have seen thus far from nearby neighborhoods and schools – and even from the train station just across the street, she said.
Hynes, a native of St. James who worked many years in banking and finance before getting into the frozen treat business, said she has been enjoying the process of opening a business so far.
"It’s a wonderful experience, something I couldn’t have foreseen," Hynes said. "Yogurt? Where does life take you? Every experience brings you just another step forward in life. It’s always good, that’s how I see it."