By Jonathan Phelps firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — ANDOVER — A new frozen yogurt shop is moving downtown and the owner says he's ready to compete with the success of Orange Leaf, a popular frozen yogurt chain on Park Street.
Orange Leaf opened in July 2011 to crowds of people looking for such a dessert place downtown.
Now, people will also be able to choose Sweet Kiwi Frozen Yogurt, which is expected to open at 77 Main St. — formally LeBlanc's Fine Wine & Spirits — early next year. The business will appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Nov. 1 seeking a special permit.
“It will be a great location,” owner Tuan Nguyen said. “There is good foot traffic and the downtown draws visitors from neighboring towns.”
Frozen yogurt places have become a national trend with stores opening up all around the region. Nguyen said he isn't concerned about the competition with Orange Leaf here in Andover.
“They are doing well and there are enough visitors to the downtown,” Nguyen said. ''So we aren't worried. There is enough for everybody.”
David Pierre, owner of Orange Leaf, would not comment on what Sweet Kiwi might mean for his business.
Along with Sweet Kiwi, Mad Maggie's Ice Cream will be opening at Andover Village Square. Pierre previously said he supported Mad Maggie's opening a second store in town.
Downtown went from having no ice cream or frozen yogurt places to three in a period of about a year and half.
"Orange Leaf has been pretty busy," said Senior Planner Lisa Schwarz. "But people have still been asking for ice cream. In my opinion, I think there is room for more."
But three? Only the market will tell, Schwarz said.
Sweet Kiwi, a family-owned business, opened its first store on Wood Street in Lowell in June 2012. There are now stores also open in Chelmsford and Methuen. Stores are expected to open in Westford, Manchester, N.H., and Martinburg, W. Virginia.
Nguyen said seven stores are expected to be open by the end of the year. He will own three of them, with the others being franchises.
The Andover location will feature 16 flavors and over 50 toppings. There will be seating for about 15 people, said Dave Clarke, the contractor for the proposed store.
Clarke said the concept of the store will include bright and vibrant colors to match the company's other stores.
Photos on Sweet Kiwi's website show bright green and light brown colors inside the store, similar to Orange Leaf. The plastic furniture is also similar to Orange Leaf.
Nguyen, who grew up in Haverhill after moving from Vietnam when he was 16, said he picked Andover to open a new store because of the central location downtown, visibility on Main Street and the nearby municipal parking.
He said his family owned and operated a restaurant in Lowell for seven years before selling it.
Clarke said they are hoping to open sometime in February of March. The store will employ between seven and 15 people.
“It is a destination for people now,” Clarke said of downtown. “It is a great alternative to the malls because there is a great variety of existing businesses that work well together.”