A case of the Menchie’s

Menchie's owner Ken MockA couple of years ago Vancouver resident Ken Mork might have laughed if you suggested that he would one day be running a frozen yogurt shop called Menchie’s. After all, Mork spent 35 years working in the building industry – a far cry from frozen desserts. But at the end of 2008, life threw Mork a curve ball when he lost his job during the height of the Great Recession.

“What I found when I started looking for a new job is that no one was going to hire me at the amount of money I was making,” recalled Mork. “I had a bit of money in savings so I figured I needed to do something and I started looking into getting a small business.”

A bit of research here, the right opportunity there, and before you know it (August 2010 to be exact), Mork’s yogurt shop became a reality. With the help of local lender Columbia Credit Union, Mork became a Menchie’s franchisee.

Menchie's menu item“And I’m hoping to open up two more next January,” explained Mork. “Each of them in Vancouver.”

Mork said he first heard about the Menchie’s franchise through a friend of a friend that owns one. Based out of California’s San Fernando Valley, Menchie’s offers self-serve frozen yogurt with more than 100 rotating yogurt flavors and more than 60 rotating toppings.

After just three years of franchising, the company has opened more than 60 frozen yogurt stores and has signed agreements for another 100 stores that are currently in development. In July 2010, Menchie's was named at the top of Restaurant Business Magazine's Future 50 list, ranking it the fastest growing franchise in the restaurant industry with 748 percent growth.

Menchie's sign“There are a lot of frozen yogurt places out there that look the same,” said Mork. “This is really different. Everything is branded down to the spoons. We even sell clothing items. It’s almost like we’re the McDonalds of frozen yogurt. It sets you apart from the competition.”

According to Mork, his role as franchisee has been ideal, especially considering his lack of experience in the food industry.

“When we first opened, even with training from corporate, you realize you don’t know anything and an hour later something goes wrong,” said Mork. “If I wouldn’t have had somebody that I could just pick up the phone and call I don’t know what I would have done.”

Despite the comfort of the growing Menchie’s brand, Mork admits that owning a frozen yogurt shop in the Pacific Northwest isn’t always easy on the nerves. Especially when we have wetter and cooler than average springs.

“You get a little scared during the cold months,” he said. “It’s snowing out and you have two people working… You just have to say ‘you know, tomorrow will be better.’”

By the looks of it, tomorrow is nearly here.

In the last month, Mork said sales at his Mill Plain Crossing store have increased by 100 percent. During the summer, he expects those numbers to triple.

“It’s a great feeling when you get the sun shining again,” he said.

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