The second in this series celebrating the local businesses we love, sponsored by Recycling Perks.
Yo… You Got to Go…. to Zoyo.
What do two smart, young, fun-loving army veterans do when it’s time to leave the military? They do their research, apply their skills as logistics experts, take the leap and become “vetrepreneurs.”
Veteran + Entrepreneur = Vetrepreneur
Armando Velasquez and Isaura Ramirez are the proud veterans and owners of Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt in northern Suffolk, one minute from the College Drive exit of I-664 in Harbourview. They are nestled in the sweet spot between Chipolte and Jersey Mike’s Subs. Take your pick of healthy fast food and then step over to the patio at Zoyo’s for some delicious and nutritious frozen yogurt.
Armando is a military brat and grew up everywhere. Isaura is a native of Puerto Rico. They’ve been married five years and have an adorable two-year-old daughter, Alana, who comes to work with mom every day. This is a goal-setting couple. They started to make plans for their post-Army life years ago. They loved Hampton Roads and decided this was the spot to settle down and open a business. They have no family here, except the “other 300,000 veterans” who live here.
You have to taste Zoyo’s frozen yogurt. Isaura did her homework and looked for the best. Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt is a franchise, but it’s a small company, based in Arizona. Our neighborhood Zoyo is the first on the east coast. Isaura is a very health conscious person. Armando says, “She’s added at least 15 years to my life just by marrying me. She won’t serve anything in the store that she wouldn’t give to our two year old daughter.” The frozen yogurt is full of live and active cultures, but it tastes great. “You can have a treat without harming your body.”
Armando and Isaura will be using fresh, local strawberries this spring. They buy local whenever possible. The peanuts that you will put on top of your yogurt come from Plantation Peanuts in Wakefield. There are always 12 flavors to choose from, but there are over 90 flavors in the line up. A sugar-free and dairy-free flavor is always available. Salted Caramel, a signature flavor, is to die for. Today there is also Latte Fun, Be My Cherrytine, and Watermelon Sorbet.
Armando calls Zoyo a “micro-business,” but they want to do whatever they can to be part of the neighborhood. It’s part of their mission. When you are with the military, you don’t stay in one neighborhood for long. You have to make an effort to “find” your neighborhood. [Check out their Facebook page.]
There is some neighborhood fun going on at Zoyo all the time. The first Wednesday of the month is Pajama Night. Wear your jammies to Zoyo and get half off your froyo. They have Movie Night Mondays, Craft Nights on the first and third Tuesday of the month and Spanish Story times for the little ones. They have open mic nights. Monday night is Bike Night. Ride your bike on up to Zoyo and get 25% off your treat. When it gets really cold outside, the price of yogurt per ounce might go down to the temperature at noon.
Service to the greater community is also important to the couple. They are very involved in Mission Continues, an organization that “empowers veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home to find new missions.” Mission Continues deploys veterans into their communities and “harnesses veterans’ strengths, skills, and their compassion and empowers them to volunteer with non-profit organizations in their community on a daily basis.” Zoyo also donates to Disabled American Veterans and For Kids.
Zoyo Neighborhood Yogurt caters weddings, graduations, birthday parties, fundraisers and other events. They can customize a frozen yogurt bar for you or your company. They are launching birthday parties at the store. Everyone can make their own froyo sundae; the birthday boy or girl gets a yogurt named after him or her and everyone can help make a frozen yogurt pie.
“This is your neighborhood gathering spot,” Armondo said. “Once people get in here, it’s always fun. Come in and hang out with us. What are you celebrating today?”
Zoyo Yogurt is located at 6216 College Drive Suite 102, in Suffolk. For a Buy One, Get One Free frozen yogurt, click here.
Recycling Perks is available in the Cities of Chesapeake, Suffolk and Norfolk. It’s already part of the recycling program, built as a way to reward the efforts of individual citizens choosing to recycle and beautify their community. Recycling Perks incentivizes saving the world with discounts and freebies from local businesses. It only takes 60 seconds to activate your account online at www.recyclingperks.com. What are you waiting for?
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