Bobalicious, which opened its first store in Mechanicsville about a year ago, will open a location this weekend in Hampton Roads.
The new store is in the MacArthur Center mall in downtown Norfolk in what used to be a Starbucks kiosk. It’s the chain’s fourth store. A fifth, its first franchise, will open near VCU in two weeks.
Bobalicious founder and CEO Rick Oeur said he’s not stopping there.
“If everything goes right, we’re looking to expand to 100 locations,” Oeur said. “That’s the magic number.”
That magic number will take $3 million to $5 million to reach, Oeur said. The company is in talks with investors to raise the money, he said.
The Norfolk kiosk location marks the launch of a new concept for Oeur’s young company.
Mall kiosks will be one of three variations on the self-serve concept that he will offer in his push to sell franchises. The other store designs include the storefront locations and in-line spaces in mall food courts.
“Our product is an impulse buy,” Oeur said. “We want to get in front of people.”
The Norfolk location is corporate owned, as are locations at Mechanicsville Turnpike, Chesterfield Towne Center and Southpark Mall in Colonial Heights.
It’s all part of Oeur’s bid to differentiate Bobalicious from what seems like an endless flow of frozen yogurt shops. Bobalicious competes with 11 frozen yogurt companies operating about 20 locations in the area.
“The yogurt war is hot and heavy right now,” he said. “Anybody can sell frozen yogurt nowadays. But we’re not a one-trick pony.”
As its name implies, Bobalicious tries to stand out by also selling what it calls boba drinks, also known as bubble tea, which is like a tea smoothie with tapioca balls.
“We want [bubble tea] to be hotter than frozen yogurt,” Oeur said, adding that the company is also adding specialty coffees to its menu.
Bobalicious is the second Richmond-based frozen yogurt chain to expand out of the area. It follows in the footsteps of the larger and ever-expanding Sweet Frog, which has dozens of locations across the country.
Sweet Frog recently scored venture capital from Shockoe Slip-based private equity firm Boxwood Capital Partners.
Going after the kiosk market offers a cheaper alternative for potential Bobalicious franchisees.
Opening a kiosk is about 10 percent cheaper than a storefront, Oeur said.
Although prices vary by mall, getting a kiosk up and running will run a franchisee between $150,000 and $175,000, Oeur said.
Leases are signed with the malls themselves, with terms of five to 10 years and rates between $75 and $125 per square foot per year, he said.
With its Virginia franchise program in place, Oeur said his company sells franchises for a $25,000 fee. Bobalicious also takes a 4 percent to 6 percent royalty fee.
That money comes with support, branding, location scouting and training for franchisees, he said, plus access to a vendor pipeline for equipment, supplies and ingredients.
While Bobalicious has grown quickly to 35 employees and multiple locations, Oeur, 42, is juggling more than frozen yogurt.
He also owns three other Richmond businesses: Sunrise Carpet and Vinyl, Capital Warehouse and maintenance company Advanced Contracting Services.
“I’m crazy, I guess,” he said.