After nearly seven years operating Yoasis Frozen Yogurt and Gelato in Ahwtaukee, Brian and Sue McHugh have sold the business and moved on to a new life and new careers back East.
While new owners Emmie and Morris Howell are settling into the business at 1304 E. Chandler Blvd., the McHughs have been settling in Ohio.
“Manufacturing in Phoenix has gone through some rough times, and when he landed an awesome opportunity with Honeywell in Ohio and I was also able to find a position in Ohio, it only made sense to move since our children have now lives of their own,” said Sue, who will run an Einstein Bros. Bagels.
“We seriously thought about keeping the store and managing from a distance. However, we knew our best would not be given to our customers any longer and we just couldn’t do that.”
The Howells are settling in with their new business – and plan to resettle with it.
They’re selling their house in Mesa and moving to Ahwatukee.
Morris said he and his wife weren’t looking for anything special when he decided he wanted to own a business “where no one could fire me but me.”
Previously employed in the semiconductor industry, Morris said he and his wife came across Yoasis.
“We weren’t looking for anything specific, but when we found this, we were really impressed. The previous owners did an excellent job,” he said.
While the opportunities in Ohio were too sweet for the McHughs to pass by, their departure was bittersweet in some ways.
“We started up the shop from our dreams,” Sue said. “We designed it, built it and poured our lives into it. Our mission was to have the best product and offer the best customer service, all while giving back to the community who supported us. We did all that and have no regrets and will miss our baby dearly.”
The McHughs, who moved to Ahwatukee in 2001, opened the shop in 2010.
“We chose yogurt because it was a product I really loved,” Sue recalled. “The yogurt industry was exploding at the time and had a growing popularity. We had been looking to buy a restaurant but couldn’t find anything worth it without having to clean them up. We decided to just start from scratch and build the shop we had visions of.”
“We did not have a special recipe, but we did have a dairy that we favored from California that really not many yogurts companies use here in Arizona,” she added.
Over the years, they not have only won numerous awards, but have estimated raising $85,000 in donations for numerous causes in the community. Their store also was a source of free water for benefit car washes.
“We offered free use of water to groups to hold car washes. If someone asked something of us, it’s always had been yes,” Sue said. “We absolutely love Ahwatukee and are so happy to have raised our children in this community and the schools.”
The McHughs’ three children all went to Sierra Elementary School, Altadena and Desert Vista High. Two are already through college and Kyle, the youngest, is a sophomore at the University of Arizona, from where second-youngest Sean also graduated. Oldest child Megan graduated from ASU.
All three grew up working at the shop.
The kids also are staying in the area. Megan lives in Tempe and has a career with Princeton Review. Sean lives in Tucson and is a general manager for Panda Express. Kyle is studying aerospace engineering.
The McHughs said they will “miss our life here very much.”
“We will miss most the serenity of the desert lifestyle,” she said, noting it is “so quiet here and I love hiking South Mountain.”
But she added that she and her husband also “look to our future with so much promise and again, no regrets.”
“Our wish is that Yoasis will stay an amazing family business for the future and the community supports the new owner. Nothing would be better but to come back and see it still thriving.”
Morris Howell said he and his wife have every intention of making that wish come true.
“It’s been a challenge,” he said. “It’s a great business and we’re not changing a thing, not the prices or anything else.”