Brentwood is now home to Yogurt Pizazz, which owner Lou Rigney hopes will be the first of many yogurt joints in his dessert empire.
After 28 years in telecommunications, the Brentwood resident decided it was time to fulfill his lifelong dream of owning his own business. He tossed around several ideas, but his eldest daughter Sarah convinced him that yogurt was an ideal business venture.
While attending college, Sarah became familiar with a dessert place in San Diego. She pitched the idea to her dad, and once Lou went down to check it out, he saw that yogurt could be a good fit for the future family business.
He spent months researching what it would take to open an establishment before he “scratched and clawed” his way through the process of finding funds for the project, which included taking out several credit card loans.
The end result is a self-serve frozen yogurt shop that has slowly been catching on in the Brentwood community.
“Business has been phenomenal,” Lou said. “I’ve received so many compliments. Parents come in and tell me that their kids don’t ask to go to McDonald’s anymore. They want to come to Yogurt Pizazz. Senior citizens come up to me and shake my hand and thank me for opening in Brentwood. Many people have told me that they’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time.”
Yogurt Pizazz opened in February, but Lou is already looking to expand the venture, possibly opening a second shop in Martinez. While he’s already been presented with franchise opportunities, Lou would like to keep the business family owned and operated.
While Lou handles the ownership role, daughter Heather, 16, runs the shop as operations manager. The Liberty High junior comes to the shop after school to keep things running smoothly.
“I love being here,” Heather said. “I want to go to college and study business management, so this is perfect for me. I’m learning something new every day. And I love meeting all the people, especially the kids. It’s great to see how excited they get when they come in. Plus, I get to work with my sisters. We have a ball.”
Lou’s wife Faith also works in the shop running the register and answering questions, while daughter Kelly, 18, handles the human resources, and daughter Erica, 14, runs sales. Sarah, 20, has returned from San Diego, continuing her studies at Los Medanos College, while handling the company’s marketing department. Lou’s sister, Kimberly, works the register and keeps the shop clean.
“I get to see my kids now more than ever,” Lou said. “It’s great to have the family together. Instead of running in different directions, we’re all running together. It’s a team effort.”
Lou said frozen yogurt shops are becoming more popular because the dessert serves as a healthy alternative to ice cream. Frozen yogurt is low in calories and contains active cultures, such as acidophilus, which are good for the digestive tract.
All the yogurt is fat-free, and no-sugar yogurts are also available. Flavors and toppings rotate on a regular basis, so the Yogurt Pizazz experience is always changing.
Yogurt Pizazz is a self-serve shop. Upon entering, you go to the back to grab a 16 oz. cup. The yogurt machines are to the right, and an island of toppings sits at the center of the shop.
Eight flavors of yogurt are available, ranging from vanilla and chocolate to cheesecake and peanut butter. Customers can fill their cups with one flavor or mix and match. And the array of more than 40 toppings makes the possibilities endless. Yogurt lovers can make the dessert as health conscious or as sweet as they’d like. Add fresh fruit and granola or gummy bears and rainbow sprinkles. It’s up to you. Fill it with whatever you want.
Once customers are satisfied with their creations, they take them to the register and set them on the scale. The cost: a mere 38 cents per ounce. “You get your money’s worth,” Lou said. “I’ve had people pay anywhere from $1.50 to $9. It all depends on what you want. It’s yogurt your way.”
Yogurt Pizazz will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, April 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Radio station KAT Country 103 will be on hand for the festivities, which will include special yogurt discounts.
Yogurt Pizazz, located at 3860 Balfour Road in Brentwood, is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. For more information, call 925-626-7840.