April 29, 2012
Interview: Ariel Ford of Easy Breezy
The Noe Valley Town Square may still be a distant fantasy, but Ariel Ford hopes to bring some of that communal spirit to Easy Breezy, a frozen yogurt shoppe set to open in June. We asked Ariel what she has planned for 4028 24th St:
Tell us a bit about yourself. My name is Ariel Ford. I grew up on the Peninsula and have lived in either Noe Valley or Eureka Valley for the last 19 years. My husband Durand and I bought a home here 11 years ago and are raising our three young sons here ages 1 ½, 5 and 7 ½. We live our daily lives here and just love our neighborhood.
What made you want to open a store in Noe Valley? We have been looking at the 24th Street shopping corridor for the last 7 years with frozen yogurt on our minds. We were waiting for the perfect spot – it finally opened up, and at the perfect time.
Easy Breezy – where did you get the inspiration for the name? Durand’s family is from Minnesota, and we spend a few weeks there every summer with the kids and our extended family on White Bear Lake. We love to go to the Cup N Cone there for a soft serve – it’s a small shack that has been there forever - the shop was inspired by this type of frozen treat shack you commonly see in the midwest, where families and community gather around a small shack. The person serves you your treat through a screen in the shack, and people gather in the sunshine and enjoy a nice cup or cone.
You’ve been a long-time resident of Noe – why open a store now? Our kids are finally (almost) old enough to allow us a little more time for a venture like this. And we love the idea of being able to serve our local community. We feel the one thing 24th Street lacks is a fun, sit-down dessert place and we are looking forward to filling that gap with a healthy and delicious frozen yogurt option.
Froyo –other companies have tried and failed – what do you think you can do differently to succeed? We are not a chain, not a franchise. We are long-time residents that understand this neighborhood and it’s tastes – they are the same as ours! We look forward to offering healthy, organic options that are locally produced as much as possible, while still offering fun choices in yogurt flavors and toppings. We are building our shop with zero waste in mind – everything will be compostable, green and energy efficient. We are completely focused on this individual store and how we can cater to our local folks. And personally, we are very community-minded people – it is how we raise our kids, run our home and run our lives. It’s a natural extension for us to create community around frozen yogurt and dessert!
Describe the Easy Breezy experience for us – give us a tour. What do you have planned? Breeze through our outdoor patio (complete with stroller parking!) into Easy Breezy. You’re inside but it still feels like outside – beautiful wood and summery colors greet you and beckon you to grab a Breezy cup. Fill your cup with our organic tart yogurt, or enjoy our home-made flavors like Chai Vanilla, Strawberry Pie, Fresh Cake Batter and Cookies n Cream. There is also a non-dairy option. If you are feeling more decadent you might want to splurge on the vanilla frozen custard. Circle around our toppings island and enjoy items like organic fruits, fresh nuts, cookie dough and brownie bits from local shops, or saltier toppings for the more adventurous – peanut-butter filled pretzels and kosher rock salt anyone? Pay by the ounce, grab a compostable spoon and find a seat on a wide log or at the wooden bar, and enjoy! It’s a great place for the kids during the day, and a cozy place to grab dessert after dinner. All of our frozen yogurt is gluten-free, rich in probiotics and kosher.
Why did you decide to convert a retail space to food? And what were the challenges there? We knew we wanted to be on the north side of the street because of the sun. We also knew we were going to put a lot of effort into the buildout of the space and wanted to work with a landlord we could have a strong and trusting relationship with. Elisa of Elisa’s Hot Tubs and her family have been absolutely wonderful to work with during the long process of converting the use of this space from retail to food. We have had incredible neighborhood support from the Merchant’s Association as well as local businesses and residents. The planning department took a look at the corridor when we asked for the conversion and understood the need for businesses in the area that promote more walk-by traffic. The conversion process was long and we are in communication with our district supervisor Scott Weiner in his attempts to make the process less arduous.
What other places do you love and frequent on 24th St? Our family hits Toast and Pasta Pomodoro a couple times a week. We love the shopping at Xela Imports, and getting pampered at Sally’s Nails. The kids spend hours and most of their money at Just For Fun. I enjoy spin classes at Cardio-Tone as well.
Bernie’s, Philz or Martha’s? They’re all good – Bernie’s has great ambiance, you can’t beat Martha’s selection of pastries…..but I have to admit I am a Philz coffee addict. Turkish with cardamom, cream only. Mmmm…. hey – maybe we should offer a Philz coffee-flavored yogurt!