Another self-serve yogurt shop has entered the Ahwatukee Foothills market and Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon showed up for the grand opening ribbon-cutting on June 6.
"We reached out to the mayor's office and [asked] them if they were interested in helping to promote small business growth in the community," said Charles Herberg, general manager of Orange Leaf Yogurt. "The opening is an indication that Phoenix is on the right track and that its owners are optimistic about Phoenix and Ahwatukee."
Herberg previously owned three wallpaper stores, but two of them closed due to the downturn in the economy. Together with his brother, Chris, the two decided to open a store that was less dependent on the housing industry. Now Charles acts as the general manager, operating the day-to-day activities of the yogurt shop, and Chris provides the economic backing for the store.
Orange Leaf Yogurt is a chain with more than 100 stores nationwide. The location in Ahwatukee is the Valley's sixth shop, with four more opening soon in the metro area, according to Herberg.
"We thought that the neighborhood and its demographics could support a yogurt store," Herberg said. "There are families [in the area] and yogurt stores are usually family oriented."
The national company focuses on getting involved in every community where Orange Leaf Yogurts exists and they are saying Ahwatukee is no exception.
"We've joined the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for the whole Valley," Herberg said. "We have also [reached] out to different high schools, contacting them and trying to sponsor their teams."
Part of getting involved in the community also means becoming acquainted with the yogurt businesses already operating in Ahwatukee. Herberg stresses that any competition with these other stores will be friendly, but continues to highlight the strengths of Orange Leaf Yogurt.
"We have a premium product. [The yogurt] is not frozen and we make and mix it ourselves and then freeze it in our store," Herberg said. "There is also the upscale environment of the location - the store is beautiful and also has [wireless Internet access]."
Herberg is optimistic about the future of his business. As he explained, though the economy is not yet fully recovered, it is in a turnaround. The appeal of the shop and its premium products allows him to have faith in its potential.
"Orange Leaf gives Ahwatukee and its residents a fun, upscale environment to go and have a nice frozen treat that is healthier and as delicious as ice cream."
Orange Leaf Yogurt, 4810 E. Ray Road, is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call (480) 753-9402 or go to orangeleafyogurt.com.
• Anna Gunderson is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a freshman at Arizona State University.