Arbutus residents looking to beat the summer's heat and humidity could be in for a treat after Hiral Patel decided to switch from sandwiches to sweets.
Patel, owner of the Subway at 1407 Sulphur Spring Road, also owns Cravingz frozen yogurt, which opened in the same shopping center July 31 and offers more than 50 flavors of yogurt.
Patel said he owns Subway stores in Elkridge and Linthicum as well as the Arbutus location and decided he wanted "to do something different."
The Ellicott City resident, a business owner for more than 15 years, said the Arbutus business district lacked a place to get a healthy, sweet snack.
"There's a snowball stand. There's Ice Cream Cottage. But there's no frozen yogurt [in Arbutus]," he said of the options for a cooling dessert in the immediate area.
The store, located in the storefront formerly occupied by Art and Cake Bakery, operates on a self-serve model. Customers choose from the 16 flavors available that day and then select from more than 30 toppings that range from fresh fruit to chocolate syrup to gummy worms.
"We use the premium brand, Dannon," Patel said of the yogurt coming out of the shop's dispensers. "We use the same product that the big companies, like Sweet Frog, use."
Patel began renting the space in May and spent about $200,000 on renovations before business could begin.
"It took us a couple months to build this place out," he said. "Pretty much we had to gut down the place, the whole bakery."
The end product is an inviting space filled with bright colors that, on a recent Thursday afternoon, attracted two teenage girls and their mothers.
Seated around one of the small tables and enjoying the new venue were Julia Stanitski and her mother, Pam Stanitski, both of Elkridge; and Rachel Scheubrooks and her mother, Sandy Scheubrooks, both of Halethorpe.
The group had met at Ice Cream Cottage a few blocks away for a treat when Sandy mentioned the new yogurt shop. They all decided to try it out.
Pam Stanitski said they love Ice Cream Cottage, and will continue to get their ice cream from the shop on Stevens Avenue. But the opportunity for a new dessert was too good to pass up.
"We like to try out different places," she said.
While 13-year-old Rachel tried the vanilla flavor mixed with peanut butter, 13-year-old Julia took a bolder route.
"I got like, every one," she said of the rainbow of yogurt inside her cup.
Everyone at the table agreed the yogurt was delicious and Sandy Scheubrooks said she really enjoyed the healthier alternative.
"More people are cautious about they they're eating [these days], so yogurt is healthy," she said.
Arbutus Business and Professional Association President Terry Nolan is glad to have the new store in town.
"We welcome businesses to Arbutus," said Nolan, whose law office on Oregon Avenue is a short distance away from the yogurt shop. "They have joined our association, and we're pleased to have them."
He said there was some initial concern from other businesses selling similar products in the area.
But he thinks the potential competition, if there is any — unlikely in Nolan's opinion — would be a positive for the area.
"I see them as being compatible in that they're aimed at a slightly different market," Nolan said of the yogurt shop.
"The way that any business improves is when there's competition," Nolan said. "It puts a little pressure on pricing and a little pressure on customization.
"So I think it's all good for the consumer," he said.