DRACUT -- With frozen yogurt shops springing up everywhere, two Lowell men are hoping to carve out a niche in Dracut.
All Mixed Up, a frozen yogurt café, opened in July on the site of the former Good Olde Yum Yum Shop. Mike Surprenant and Ryan Rourke have been good friends for years. Now they're business partners.
The 3,000-square-foot space underwent a massive renovation that included knocking down several walls to make room for the five self-serve frozen yogurt machines, which are embedded in a wall. The colorful (mostly pink, white and green) walls and tables accentuate the shiny hardwood floors.
Two wide-screen televisions hang on the walls at either end of café, which offers customers free Wi-Fi service. There is a lounge area with leather sofas that blend in nicely, and enough room outside to set up a few tables and accommodate a dog-friendly patio.
At the end of the corridor, just before reaching the rest rooms, a large mirror hangs on the well. The familiar gingerbread man is seemingly saying "Hello" under the Good Olde Yum Yum Shoppe logo.
"It's a little tip of the hat," said Rourke, a 35-year-old real estate agent by day.
Located at the coveted end space in Dracut's Village Square at 101 Broadway Road, All Mixed Up sits directly across the entrance and exit to Veterans Memorial Park. Surprenant says there are enough customers to go around throughout Greater Lowell.
"Lowell is Lowell.
All Mixed Up is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. After filling your cup with frozen yogurt, your choice of some three dozen dry toppings, fruit toppings and whipped cream, your creation is weighed and you are charged 49 cents an ounce.
The Dispatch sat down with Rourke and Surprenant in their office recently. Surprenanant answered all of the questions, while Rourke listened, adding an occasional word or phrase.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for a frozen yogurt shop?
A: "It's based on the Orange Leaf in North Andover. They're a franchise and that's not the direction we wanted to go into, totally. We created something that is completely ours. Their (the Orange Leaf) whole concept is a smaller venue. We want to attract everyone, from little kids who just got a good report card, to an elderly couple out on a date."
Q: Do you think you can compete with all the other frozen yogurt shops that have recently, including the two shops on Bridge Street in Lowell, less than a mile
A: "We knew they were there before we opened up. We gave it a lot of thought. The demographics are completely different. They'll get the Lowell shoppers coming out of the market. We're hoping to attract all the folks going in and out of Veteran's Park right across the street, as well as the (Washington Savings) bank, the Post Office and all the businesses in this plaza.
Q: What is the attraction of frozen yogurt over ice cream?
A: "It's healthier, for one thing, and it's self-serve. We have a variety of flavors and we offer little free sample cups that you can fill up before you fill up your big cup. We have any topping you want. If we don't have it, we'll try to get it. You can make any combination you want. You can make it as healthy as you want or ... not. You're coming in here looking for something healthy. You can definitely get that here if that's what you want."
Q: What do you plan to do when the winter months come?
A: "We have a few ideas that we're kicking back and forth. Nothing solid yet. We will definitely try to something to keep attracting customers during the winter when frozen yogurt is not the first thing on your mind.
"But kids can come in here after school, have a yogurt and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. People can meet their clients here. We're trying to create a destination."
Q: What little things do you have to do to make sure this business is a success?
A: "Make sure everything is clean and fresh. Clean and fresh! Clean and fresh! That's my motto around here. Make sure everything is clean and all the fruit toppings are always fresh. Another thing I try to drill into the staff is to be personable. Be friendly and helpful. They'll take you around and show you how to use the machines and how to fill your cup. They'll take you through the entire process, especially if you've never been here before. We greet our customers with a warm friendly smile as soon as they come through door. We want they to want to come back again and again, and bring their family and friends with them, and those people will keep coming back with new friends. I believe that's how you stay successful."