Sweet Frog frozen yogurt's first Maryland store in Catonsville

No place in Maryland could beat Catonsville when it came to being the best spot to open a new frozen yogurt shop.

Representatives for Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt considered 25 locations for its first Maryland store, before choosing Catonsville, said Philip Pantana, a spokesman for the company.

The self-serve yogurt shop will occupy the space between FedEx Kinkos and Starbucks in the 40 West Shopping Center on North Rolling Road.

The grand opening is scheduled for 4 p.m. Feb. 10, Pantana said.

The chain has 50 locations already in five states, with more than half in Virginia.

"We felt that it was the most central to all the counties we were looking in," Pantana said, noting they also looked at Howard and Anne Arundel counties. "It just seems like an epicenter. There's a lot of traffic."

Teal Cary, executive director of the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, said that the store would be a nice addition to the shopping center.

"In the tighter economy, people want to stay close to home. So it's great when we have these great new amenities in Catonsville," Cary said, noting few area dessert shops offer frozen yogurt. "It should be an enjoyable place for families to go with their kids."

Sweet Frog offers 16 flavors of yogurt, including two sugar free. Flavors range from basics, such as strawberry and Country Vanilla, to the exotic, such as dulce de leche and Thin Mint, Pantana said.

Customers can choose to swirl the flavors to create, for example, cappucino praline chunk from its cappucino and praline flavors, Pantana said.

"The biggest differentiator is our yogurt tends to be sweeter and less tarty," Pantana said.

Pantana said he walked into every frozen yogurt shop within five miles of Catonsville to scope out the competition.

Many of the yogurts he sampled were either icy or runny, he said, and the customer service made him wish that he were back home in Virginia.

He said the Catonsville store's employees that will aim to create the high level of customer service will mainly come from the local high schools and colleges. The store interviewed more than 120 people, Pantana said, and hired about 15.

He said that locations in Columbia and Ellicott City are likely to be the next two sites for Sweet Frog shops in Maryland.

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