The minute you walk into Sweet Smyles Premium Yogurt Bar you feel welcome. The open space, walls painted in vibrant stripes, bright track lighting, and comfortable white couches immediately invite each visitor to relax and enjoy.
What makes this seem so incredible is that a couple days after opening his business Doug Jones was boarding up the large plate glass windows that overlook downtown Madison and wondering what destruction Super Storm Sandy was going to leave in her wake.
Sandy spared his business and although he had to throw away the initial order of frozen yogurt he had on premises, he restocked and was ready to once again welcome his customers.
Named after Jones' 10 month old son, Myles, Sweet Smyles is fast becoming a popular downtown draw. The clientele range from mostly elementary and lower middle school students up to high schoolers and "grownups." Everyone that comes in is nice and happy, says Employee Taylor Ardito. “It’s a friendly place,” she said. “It’s just Sweet Smyles!” she added.
Each person that walks in the door is greeted, escorted to the yogurt machines at the rear of the shop, offered a taste test and introduced to the myriad of topping available to sweeten up their treat.
The choices range from Tahitian Vanilla (non fat), Triple Chocolate, Apple Pie, Tart (non fat), Cookies ‘n Cream, Cake Batter, Pomegranate Raspberry (non dairy) and Pumpkin Pie. Continuing along the process, there is a topping to suit everybody’s taste. From fresh fruit, including raspberries, melon, kiwi, blueberries and pineapple, to gummy bears, Snow Caps, chocolate chips, and Captain Crunch cereal, and ending with cinnamon, mango and lemon zest sauce.
Jones is quick to add that any and all peanut products are separate from the other products and anyone with a peanut allergy should feel very comfortable enjoying his peanut free products.
While he knows his yogurt tastes good and that he has designed an inviting space, Jones still is at a loss for words when asked to explain why he thinks his shop is so successful. “I think it’s fun to come in and make your own yogurt and be in control of what you put on your yogurt,” he said.
Aside from all the fun, Jones adds, it’s good for your immune system and its full of probiotics, good for the digestive tract.
Starting a business from scratch is nothing new to Jones. A 1986 DHHS graduate he broke into the entrepreneurial world that same year, opening White Glove Services, which lists power washing, property care, painting and gutter cleaning to its list of services.
It took about a year and a half of research into the frozen yogurt business before making the final decision to open Smyles. His research included:
- Visiting four different venues, for each frozen yogurt machine that was in contention, test tasting and asking lots of questions
- Traveling to the Wisconsin plant that makes the yogurt, with four friends, to taste about 25 different flavors of yogurts
Even though starting up a business requires a lot of time, money and energy, Jones is upbeat and positive about the product and the environment he has created at Sweet Smyles
“To put something together from nothing and be successful at it, it’s just exhilarating,” said Jones. “It feels so good to succeed at it. What really feels good is the people that come through the door, when they come through the door they’re happy!”
For those who go visit Smyles and just cannot bear to leave empty handed there are pints and quarts available to take home. These are “leftovers” from when the machines require a turnover in flavor. “Being frozen, they will last up to a year,” Jones said.
Ardito, a DHHS junior, said it is amazing how successful the business is in a short period of time, especially opening in the winter.
“I was actually really surprised,” said Ardito. “I thought that as the weather got colder, the business would get a little colder, too. But, actually a lot of people come in. It’ll be freezing outside and I see people coming in with their hats on and they say, ‘Can I get some frozen yogurt?’”
Jones said the environment is encouraging people to relax and enjoy themselves while visiting. “People can kind of get together, have conversations, sit back and enjoy themselves,” he said.
In addition, on the weekends visitors may be lucky enough to catch DHHS Senior Max Head playing his guitar at the shop. Seeing him set up and play along the row of downtown shops, “I offered for him to come out and play in front of my store,” Jones said. “It brings some liveliness to downtown Madison!”
Jones is very excited about his new business.
“I just love when people come in and they’re excited and happy and most of all enjoy our product.,” said Jones. “It’s hands down awesome!”
696 Boston Post Road
Thanksgiving Weekend: 12 p.m. - 11p.m.
Regular Winter Schedule:
Sunday 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Monday - Thursday 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 11 p.m. - 11 p.m.