On the heels of other self-serve frozen yogurt companies that have recently opened in the midstate, Alabama-based 32 Degrees expects to be the next one in the mix.
"There is no question that it's coming there," said Jenny Buha, the chain's director of development and marketing.
32 Degrees, which began franchising in February, has 16 company-owned units in seven states with a 17th store in Tennessee under construction. It was founded in 2010 by Pizitz Management Group, the nation's largest Great American Cookies franchisee.
"For us and for prospective franchisees, the No. 1 factor that creates urgency is securing an optimal location," Buha said, citing at least 30 inquiries from Pennsylvania to open a franchise.
The company has several franchise locations in the works, but none yet open.
32 Degrees is focused on the fact it has competition and hopes to set itself apart in the frozen yogurt business, Buha said. The trend started on the West Coast, jumped to the South and is moving to the Midwest and Northeast.
Central Pennsylvania has become home recently to four Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt shops among Cumberland, Lancaster and York counties. An independent Bamboo Frozen Yogurt Café also opened on the Carlisle Pike in Hampden Township — a short distance from one of the Sweet Frog locations.
To set itself apart, 32 Degrees offers a twisted frozen yogurt product — similar to a McFlurry from McDonald's — where customers fill up a special cup with their yogurt preferences and toppings and the combination is then blended at the register.
To compete in the winter, the chain is serving up warm baked treats, as well as seasonal yogurt flavors. Fresh-cut fruit served daily for toppings also is part of the strategy, Buha said.
The average franchise cost is about $350,000, which includes a $25,000 franchise fee and accounts for buying new machines and other equipment, Buha said.
32 Degrees is hoping to open three to five franchises this year and another five to 10 next year, she said.