By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt is one of the fastest-growing frozen yogurt chains in the country and Steiner Ranch residents Bob and Kathy Elmer are introducing the brand to Austin. A year after opening their first Menchie’s in Four Points, the Elmers this week celebrated the opening of their second location in the Lakeline Market Shopping Center at U.S. Hwy 183 and Lakeline Boulevard.
The brightly-colored store features 14 self-serve frozen yogurt flavors and 50 different toppings. The Elmers are celebrating their grand opening all this week, with different specials each day. The couple eventually plans to open two more locations, and have their eyes set on potential sites in Lakeway and the Mueller development.
A former advertising executive, Bob Elmer said he decided to make a career change after his company asked him to relocate to Atlanta.
“We had really fallen in love with Austin,” Elmer said. “When I decided to leave that company, I had some time to decide what we were going to do next. This crazy idea popped into my head.”
The couple knew they wanted to open a frozen yogurt business and so began researching the different franchise opportunities.
“Because there weren’t any in Austin, we weren’t familiar with Menchie’s but when we started doing the research and visiting the different companies, it became apparent pretty quickly that Menchie’s had a much bigger vision for where they could take the company and what they stood for,” Elmer said. “The thing that struck me is the mission of Menchie’s is to make people smile.”
They also found Menchie’s to have the highest-quality ingredients. The company has a partnership with Scott’s Dairy in California and all the yogurt sold is from Menchie’s private yogurt collection.
He was also drawn to Menchie’s focus on customer service. The company tries to treat each guest to the five G’s: greeting, guide, genuine connection, gift (children under 10 get free stickers and tattoos) and goodbye, many guests are told to “Have a smiley day.”
Bob and Kathy have two children who both attend River Ridge Elementary School. Bob said they love owning a Menchie’s store but even they need a break now and then.
“Every once in awhile we’ll sit down around the dinner table and our oldest will say, ‘Can we talk about anything but Menchie’s,’” Elmer said with a laugh.
Finding balance has been a learning process for the family. Bob and Kathy rarely get a weekend off since that is the busiest time at the store. He said the most important aspect is to make sure they have a quality team in place.
“The most critical aspect of being able to find the right balance is hiring great teams,” Elmer said. “We’re just getting to know our team here but we’re very encouraged by the quality of the work.”
He said Menchie’s also places a priority on community involvement and the couple’s store in Steiner Ranch has been active in festivals, fundraisers and school events.
“We’re looking forward to this one being just as much part of the community as the one in Steiner,” he said.
With the rapid popularity of self-serve frozen yogurt, Elmer said he thinks the trend is here to stay. He compares it to the burger wars of the 1960s when many different mom and pop restaurants competed against one another.
“I feel very confident that Menchie’s will be the one to rise above and be the McDonald’s of frozen yogurt,” he said.
Elmer said while the last year has been challenging, owning his own business has been very rewarding.
“I tell people that we make people smile every day and that’s not a bad way to spend your days,” he said. “I’m more proud of what we’ve done at these two stores than anything I’ve ever done in my career.”
Menchie’s at Lakeline Market is located at 14028 N. U.S. Hwy 183 in Austin. For more information, visit www.menchies.com.