Etai Zmora is the type of person that would do what it takes to help out his parents. After he had taken off a year to travel before starting school, the 19-year old was supposed to start class at the School of Visual Arts this fall. Instead, he is taking another semester off to help run the family’s new venture: , a self-serve yogurt store in the King Kullen shopping center in Garden City Park.
“They need help” the first-generation American said, referring to his parents Ziv and Pnina, both of whom are from Israel.
Zmora moved to Israel from Great Neck when he was four, returning to the United States in 2001. They had a frozen yogurt business overseas, and decided to bring the concept back due to the poor real estate market affecting Ziv’s work as an agent.
“With the market being how it is, decided to venture into frozen yogurt,” Zmora said. “After we went to California, we saw how big of a hit it was there so we decided to bring it back here.”
The store, located in the old OTB location near the southern end of the center near Jericho Turnpike, held a soft opening on August 18, with its grand opening 6 days later.
“We were looking around for a while. We finally found this location and it seemed pretty nice,” Zmora said, referring to the shopping center. Garden City Park was not their first choice as they wanted to open in the new Westbury Commons outdoor mall, “but it was too late. This location is nice, it’s not too bad.”
Using his real estate connections, Ziv brought crews to remodel the location while Pnina used her skills as an interior designer while Etai created the graphic designs, the store logos as well as signs and marketing materials.
“We just all had our own different opinions on how the place should look and it was a fusion of everybody’s input,” he said.
The family was actually surprised by the steady stream of people who have been coming in for yogurt.
“The first two days it was actually a pretty nice turnout,” Zmora said. “We still haven’t really gotten the word out that we’re here; people still don’t know that we exist, really, but so far the turnout has been good.”
For years though America’s favorite dessert or frozen treat has always been ice cream rather than frozen yogurt, which is considered healthier. One of the main things that he feels makes the concept appealing is that everything is self-service, as customers take a cup, fill it with whatever flavors or combinations they want and put toppings on it as well.
“Don’t get me wrong, I love ice cream,” Zmora said. “I can down a pint of ice cream every night, but yogurt is a healthier choice, probiotics and all that. The whole self-serve concept is what really sold us on the idea because people can really have it their own way; they can choose whatever flavors they want, whatever toppings, how much, how little. It’s a healthier choice than ice cream.”
The store has its own supplier for yogurt and flavors are switched out every two weeks as well as non-fat, low-fat, no-sugar and sorbets options.
“We have hundreds of different flavors,” Zmora said, noting that he is partial to peanut butter.
In the future customers will also be able to vote in polls for what flavors they want to see in the store. There are also plans to offer yogurt cakes and individual treats as well as belgian waffles.
“A lot of little different things like that,” Zmora said. “We’re going to have a lot of hands-on (interaction) with the people so they can tell us what they want to see, what flavors and combinations.”
The family is thinking about opening up in New York City and branching out to other locations on Long Island.
“It’s hopefully going to be a franchise,” Zmora said.