By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM, N.H. — The growing popularity of frozen yogurt shops is helping make Salem a cool place to visit.
Three shops have opened in town in the last year and two more are coming. The Planning Board will consider plans for one of the proposed shops when it meets tomorrow night.
Hemant Patel of Windham is proposing a 1,512-square-foot shop at 277 N. Broadway, the former home of Granite State Potato Chips. The longtime potato chip factory building was razed and replaced by a Dunkin’ Donuts shop this summer.
Patel plans to lease space in the Dunkin’ Donuts building. If he receives site plan approval, he hopes to open his business by Dec. 1.
He said he is still negotiating with several frozen yogurt chains to obtain franchise rights. Since November, Tutti Frutti, Froyo World and Frozyos have opened in Salem.
Another chain, Orange Leaf, has announced on its website that it, too, will be soon moving to Salem.
Orange Leaf plans to move to 389-396 Main St., a 22,000-square-foot plaza at the site of the former Green Barn restaurant.
The restaurant closed and was razed earlier this year after operating more than 40 years at the site. The plaza also includes a CVS pharmacy and Haverhill Bank branch.
Orange Leaf has yet to file plans with the town, according to planning director Ross Moldoff.
The increase in frozen yogurt shops is comparable to the rising number of urgent care facilities in town. Several have opened in Salem this year.
“It’s unusual we are seeing so many of them,” Moldoff said of the shops.
Salem also has numerous ice cream shops, he said. Shops that opened in recent years include Moo’s Place on Ermer Road, Jay Gee’s on South Broadway and Jim’s Ice Cream Barn on Kelly Road.
Orange Leaf is also opening shops at 19 Manchester Road in Derry, 90 Pleasant Valley St. in Methuen and at the intersection of Plaistow Road and Main Street in Haverhill, according to the company’s website. Orange Leaf spokeswoman Meredith Lynn could not be reached Friday for comment.
Patel, seeking to open his first business, said he wants to invest in a growing industry.
After seeing frozen yogurt shops prosper locally and across the country, he decided that was the kind of business he wanted to operate. It didn’t matter he would face competition from other shops in Salem, he said.
“They are opening left and right,” Patel said. “There was something telling me, ‘There is something about this business.’”
Neth Pou, who opened Tutti Frutti in The Mall in Rockingham Park in November, said the national demand for frozen yogurt helped convince him to get into the business.
Tutti Frutti has more than 600 shops, he said. Pou said his business at the mall has done well.
“It didn’t happen by accident because the product is really good,” he said. “It’s healthy and better than ice cream.”
Frozyos opened at 517 S. Broadway in February. General manager Coutney Perry said the shop isn’t worried about increased competition.
“We have our own niche,” he said.
Perry said the fact Frozyos charges customers by the cup size — rather than volume — sets his shop apart from the rest.
Salem’s other frozen yogurt shop is Froyo World at 240 N. Broadway, owned by Richard and Lynn Caesar. The business opened in June.
The Salem shops are among nearly a dozen in Southern New Hampshire. Others include Sweet Kiwi Frozen Yogurt in Londonderry, Billy’s Frozen Yogurt in Derry and Yogurt City in Plaistow.