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Elmwood ‘yogurt wars’ signal strip’s vitality

A frozen yogurt war may be about to heat up a block this summer on Elmwood Avenue.

Crowds have been streaming into Yotality since the storefront opened earlier this month at 715 Elmwood, last occupied by Chow Chocolat. They’re attracted to the low- and nonfat dairy alternatives to ice cream, and the dozens of candy and fruit toppings that can be mixed in.

Friday, White Rabbit, another frozen yogurt store with an almost identical do-it-yourself setup, is expecting a similar reaction when it opens at 802 Elmwood Ave., recently occupied by Dolci Cafe.

In both places customers grab a cup, choose the yogurt from a bank of yogurt machines, add toppings and then pay by weight. The two new frozen yogurt stores are among this summer’s changes on the popular Elmwood Avenue strip, which has seen a number of new businesses spring up.

Andy Kandola, part-owner of White Rabbit, said he wasn’t aware Yotality was going to come in when he signed his lease, but he remained confident there was enough frozen yogurt business to go around.

“I think that it just gives people more options, honestly speaking,” Kandola said. “We believe there is a market for it in this area.”

Kandola opened a second White Rabbit earlier this month at 1750 Niagara Falls Blvd., Town of Tonawanda, and has a third store opening in August in Niagara Falls.

His store will offer 12 flavors of yogurt among 18 flavors in all, including sorbet, with six of them a mixture. There will also be 48 toppings.

“What attracted me is the healthy alternative for anyone who wants dessert and wants no-fat options, gluten-free options or no sugar added,” Kandola said. “You can create your own dessert, and it doesn’t give you that guilt factor compared to ice cream.”

Kandola, who grew up partly in Buffalo and now lives on Grand Island, said he plans to have Dolci supply baked goods and hopes to partner with other local businesses as well.

“We really want to catch that local presence,” Kandola said.

Gene and Suzy O’Donovan own two Yotalities in Rochester, opened another at 5757 Main St., Williamsville, just before the Elmwood store, and are eyeing three more openings by the end of summer.

They also own the Irishman Pub and Eatery in Williamsville, and years earlier opened the Montana Mills Bread Company chain.

“Frozen yogurt is very much up and coming. It’s a very healthful dessert alternative. We’ve been in business 1½ years in Rochester, and business has been doing very well,” Gene O’Donovan said.

Yotality has up to 25 flavors of yogurt, with 57 toppings.

O’Donovan said he expects the storefront to be successful despite several failed businesses that previously tried to make a go of it there.

Josephine Leticia, owner of Gelateria Luca at 988 Elmwood Ave., which primarily sells gelato, also offers freshly frozen yogurt, said there’s room for everyone.

“I think it’s wonderful to have more businesses coming in to Elmwood. The more the merrier. If everyone has their own niche, why not?” Leticia said.

When Yotality first opened, she said, she noticed a dip in frozen yogurt sales, but that hasn’t continued. “Yesterday, we ran out of yogurt. We literally had to make batches. I don’t imagine there will be yogurt wars,” Leticia laughed.

Among other recent changes on Elmwood Avenue:

• Joe’s Deli has opened at 534 Elmwood, in a long-vacant building last inhabited by Off the Wall restaurant.

• Second Chic consignment shop has expanded to the D’Avolio space at 810 Elmwood. D’Avolio moved to 814 Elmwood.

• Lotions and Potions moved into 779 Elmwood and changed its name to Her Story Boutique, replacing the departed Plum Pudding. Fierce Accessories moved into the former Lotions and Potions space at 798 Elmwood.

• Sugar Scrub natural nail bar and salon has moved into 806 Elmwood.

• Taste of Siam, 810 Elmwood Ave., with the same owner as Taste of Thai on Hertel Avenue, will keep a similar menu while staying open later on weekends than its North Buffalo location.

• Firefly Cupcakes has moved into the Zilly Cakes shop at 1008 Elmwood but has retained a space for Zilly to continue doing custom-designed cakes.

• New York Metro Deli opened at 500 Elmwood.

• Panera Bread is expected to open in late July at the former Blockbuster Video at 765 Elmwood.

• Savoy, 149 Elmwood, a new bar and restaurant in Allentown, has opened in the former home of Claiborne Liquors.

• Tanglewood Salon opened at 105 Elmwood, also in Allentown.


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