Green Bean Struggle Inspires Fro-Yo Business


Jay and Neekeesha Griffin’s longtime dream of opening their own business was galvanized by an unexpected source: a plate of uneaten green beans.

Frasier, their youngest son and now 7, flat-out refused to eat his vegetables one night, prompting his parents to dream about more agreeable times during a recent vacation on the coast. While vacationing in Wilmington, North Carolina the couple had taken Frasier and his older brother, Franklin, now 10, to a frozen yogurt — or “Fro-Yo — and ice cream shop.

“The décor, the atmosphere, the vibe … we loved everything about it.” recalls Mr. Griffin, a risk manager for a private bank who has lived in Harrisburg since 2003. “One day, after fussing with the kids to eat their green beans, my wife said, ‘Let’s open an ice cream shop.’”

The interior of Frozen Kups.

Together, they would spend the next several months researching the costs of opening and running their own shop, developing a business and marketing plan, and later secured a small business loan to make their dream a reality.

The next step was deciding on an appropriate name for their endeavor.

“We wanted something that was catchy, something you could look at and tell what the product was going to be,” Mr. Griffin says. “And so we just started doodling.”

Frozen Kups, an independently owned frozen yogurt, gelato, sorbet, and Italian ice shop, opened on June 22, 2018, in the School House Commons shopping center off Highway 49.

Pursuing Their Dream

They marked the first anniversary of their business this summer, with Mr. Griffin describing their journey as one of perseverance.

He notes that several large banks did not take the couple seriously, explaining that some did not even run a credit check before declining their small business loan application. Since Frozen Kups is not a franchise, the Griffins had no hard data to share in terms of long-term sales projections.

“I was fishing for money at that point—that’s how I describe it,” Mr. Griffin recalls. “We started talking to all of them … and we weren’t taken seriously. We got a lot of ‘no’s.’ It was kind of hurtful.”

Then it happened. They secured a loan through an organization that specializes in assisting new and small businesses in getting off the ground, and had the funding to move forward with their dream.

“God allowed us to get that one bank that gave us a chance to do it,” says Mr. Griffin, who describes himself as spiritual. “For the most part, the first year has been a blessing because we’re open against all odds and the storms we’ve gone through.”

Frozen Kups owner Jay Griffin.

Explaining that ice cream sales inevitably slow down as the temperature cools, the Griffins are now looking to diversify by getting their product in schools and medical facilities. Mr. Griffin has been talking with his vendors about the next steps to help generate a more consistent revenue stream in the fall and winter.

24 Flavors, Always

Fresh Baked gelato topped with wet walnuts and whipped cream.

In addition to designing the shop’s interior, from selecting the sleek-looking chairs and curved walls to picking its unique colors, Ms. Griffin is in charge rotating Frozen Kups’ 24 flavors of gelato, Italian ices, sorbets and yogurts.

Actually, there is one flavor that is always in the rotation: Fresh Baked.

The gelato, a combination of cookie butter and chocolate chip cookie dough, is Mr. Griffin’s personal favorite, which he usually tops with some wet walnuts and dab of whipped cream. “What’s it taste like?” he says. “Heaven in a cup.”

He later added: “It’s the one product that I told my wife never to move out. It’s always in the same spot, and I asked her never to move it.”

Other gelato flavors include Belgian cookie, chocolate chip cookie dough, peanut butter truffle, chocolate obsession, peanut butter fudge, while sorbet varieties include pink lemonade, mango, tropical cream tart, orange creamsicle, and many others.

Unlike some frozen yogurt shops, Frozen Kups does not charge by weight. Instead, customers pick from one of four cup sizes, or select from an assortment of cones. The cup sizes go by name: The Flake, which is for children 5 and under, costs $2.59; the Nugget, or small, runs $4.59; the Half Cube, or medium, costs $5.59; and the Full Cube, or large, runs $6.59. 

The toppings bar boats more than 30 options, a mix of candies, assorted nuts, and a variety of dipping sauces.

Serving As Inspiration

The Griffins enjoy serving their community, explaining that they designed their 2,000-square-foot shop – and entered the frozen yogurt business in the first place – with their neighbors and their children in mind.

Frozen Kups is in the School House Commons shopping center.

Mr. Griffin and his wife, who is at the shop most days, wanted to create a space where coaches can take their players after a baseball or football game, where parents take their children to celebrate a birthday or a good grade, and where families gather for special occasions and to recognize milestones.

“We have a great product, a great environment, and good music that feeds your spirit,” Mr. Griffin says. “We’re a place where you can laugh, be a family, and not have to deal with what life brings you. You can leave that outside, for a little while.”

He also wants his customers and neighbors to know that Frozen Kups is not a franchise, and that while he and his family love God, and don’t shy away from that relationship, they also do not push their beliefs on others.

“We just want people to know that we’re a normal middle-class family that has hopes and dreams of doing something above themselves,” he said. “We had enough courage to say that we’re going to write our own vision, and actually go for it, and try to do something – even when people said we couldn’t do it or shouldn’t do it.”

He later added: “Fro-Yo is just a byproduct of what we’re trying to do. We want to serve people, and we want people to feel good about being a family, and focusing on the things that matter.”

FROZEN CUPS

  • Address: 4481 School House Commons, Harrisburg
  • Website: www.frozenkups.com
  • Facebook: Frozen Kups
  • Instagram: @frozenkups

Hours of Operation

  • Monday: Closed
  • Tuesday-Thursday: 1 to 8 p.m.
  • Friday-Saturday: 1 to 8:30 pm.
  • Sunday: 1 to 8 p.m.

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