BEDFORD - Ann Legasse was accompanying her husband, Mark, on a business trip two years ago, when the Bedford couple stumbled upon a self-serve frozen yogurt shop that operated similar to a salad bar.
Patrons took as much of the frozen concoction as they wanted, added as many toppings as they liked, had their bowls weighed at the cash register, and paid according to weight. They loved it.
"We had been entertaining the thought of purchasing a franchise, we just didn't know which one," she said. "So I started researching and we landed on TCBY. It's sort of our retirement project."
The couple's retirement project comes to fruition Tuesday, when their self-serve, TCBY location opens for business at 5 Kilton Road, across from the Bedford Mall.
The opening comes just in time for TCBY fans, since the franchise at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua recently closed. The only other TCBY in New Hampshire is at the Fox Run Mall in Newington, and that's one of the traditional versions, where staff does the serving.
The TCBY that once occupied a location on Second Street in Manchester, by Applebee's, was also the traditional variety. (Sweet Kiwi Frozen Yogurt, another self-serve franchise business, opened in that shopping center in January.) The self-serve version is what's catching on, at least in the Northeast, according to Brian Mooney, TCBY director of operations for the Eastern U.S.
"We still have a lot of very successful traditional stores throughout the country," he said, "but we have found the self-serve stores in the cold-weather states are some of our top-performing stores. Much colder areas actually do double the business of many of our locations in the Southeast."
The new location in Bedford will feature 12 flavors served from six machines, each with three nozzles - one for each flavor and one to combine them in a swirl - and a toppings bar with 36 items, including fresh fruit and granola.
The interior of the space that had been occupied by CLIX Portrait Studios was completely gutted and remodeled to accommodate the new business, Lagasse said. The so-called "soft opening" Tuesday will be followed by a grand opening April 13.
Based in Broomfield, Colo., TCBY, which stands for The Counrtry's Best Yogurt, opened its first shop in 1981 and now operates 650 locations in the United States and internationally.