Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, which gained notice in Lexington earlier this year after opening in three former Graeter's locations, is now eyeing the entire state.
The local franchisees have secured the rights to open Orange Leaf shops throughout Kentucky and plan to have 10 stores open before the end of the year and up to 20 by the end of 2012. Among them will be a fifth store in Lexington and a store in Richmond near the Eastern Kentucky University campus, said co-owner Evan Morris.
The stores are known for their contemporary, upbeat décor and feature self-serve frozen yogurt dispensers and a large toppings bar. Customers pay by the ounce. The chain is one of many that have sprung up in Lexington of late as frozen yogurt again becomes the dessert of choice for many.
Morris said he and partners Bryce Anderson and Jeremiah Sizemore plan to open at least three stores in Louisville and also are close to finalizing a location in Bellevue, in Northern Kentucky. They also plan to open stores in Elizabethtown, Georgetown and Owensboro.
"There's a lot of markets in Kentucky that we plan on hitting after we hit the bigger cities," Morris said. "We haven't figured out every single one of those markets yet, but we do plan on taking this to some of the smaller markets. ... There's a possibility for Frankfort, even a possibility for Pikeville."
Morris downplayed the idea that it matters to be the first of the latest frozen yogurt chains in those cities.
"Getting there first is important, but we've got some competitive advantages that no one else has," he said.
Among them: they make their yogurt on site, and John Calipari. The University of Kentucky men's basketball coach's involvement might surprise some customers.
Calipari is an investor backing the team and "has been a lot of help," Morris said.
"He loves the product, and having him involved has been great because he's getting the word out about it."