Sno Biz: Dream come true

By sno biz reporter
“I’ve wanted to open my own business since I was 8 years old,” said Rosie’s Sno Biz owner Andrea Natale.

She made that dream come true when she opened a trailer last year where she sells her snow cones in Yuba City and her brick-and-mortar store in East Marysville in May.

“I got the idea (for a Sno Biz store) when my family and I went to the East Coast, where these franchises are common,” Natale explained. “I had been looking to do something in Marysville just because there’s nothing over here. And this building (at the corner of East 12th and Ramirez streets) sat empty for a long time, and my dad’s a general contractor so he knows the owner. They ended up talking — and that’s how we ended up here.”

She has no plans to stop there. “My goal is to open 10 stores in the next 10 years, and this is my first one,” she said.

“The main three things we have here are the shaved ice, the ice cream and the frozen yogurt, but our specialty is shaved ice,” she added.

“Our shaved ice is different from most places. Where other stores’ ice is chopped or crushed, ours is real shaved ice. We use a block of ice and a special shaver to give us fine flakes. It’s basically like going up to Tahoe in the winter, building a snowball and pouring your favorite flavor on it,” she said, which for most people is either cherry or blue raspberry. “We go through tons and tons of those two flavors.”

“Business isn’t what I expected, but we’re doing all right. We’re hanging in there,” Natale said. “I definitely thought it would be a little bit busier. We have a lot of people who live in this area come by and they’re a large percentage of our business.” The remainder are people passing through town on their way to the mountains on Highway 20, which East 12th Street doubles as.

“Summer was really good when the kids were out of school. But since the middle of August, when school started again, business has been down. But I’ve talked to a lot of other people who have ice cream shops and they say that’s normally the trend. I didn’t know because this is my first year,” she said. “But with the trailer that’s located near Yuba City High, this is my best time.”

Store manager Milo Frankfryer added that the store did a lot of business over the Labor Day weekend.

On Sunday of Labor Day weekend, Marysville residents Cherry Garcia and her son Ocean Enriquez, along with friend Justin Bezuhly, in town from Ashland, Ore., stopped in for a snow cone. Garcia said it was their second visit.

“I like it because it’s so clean and the people are friendly, and they serve such big portions,” she said.

“I like the wide selection they offer,” Bezuhly added.

Looking ahead to winter, Natale is still deciding how she’s going to handle the cool months.

“It’s hard to say what we’re going to do. This is a really small building and we’re pretty crammed in here, so there isn’t much room to add stuff. So, we’re thinking we might add soup and possibly some kinds of bread,” she explained. “We’re definitely going to add hot chocolate and hot coffee. We’re not going to be doing any kind of espressos or cappuccinos, just regular coffee.”

Natale said one of the things she likes about having a Sno Biz franchise is that the Sno Biz corporate officials are not micromanagers who get involved in everything she does.

Another thing she likes is the latitude to be creative with the ingredients. “The cool thing about Sno Biz is that you can add any of our (44) flavors to a milkshake or a smoothie and create things you can’t do anywhere else,” she said.

Lack of experience is not a hurdle that Natale had to overcome. She said she started in the food service industry as a hostess at Casa Lupe in Yuba City at age 15 and then graduated to waitress. She said she’s been in restaurant business management for a number of years, running three restaurants in Roseville and Sacramento. “Whatever jobs I’ve had, I was always able to work myself up fairly fast,” Natale said.

And lack of effort isn’t one of her faults.

“I wake up in the morning and then grocery-shop for the store. Then I go to the trailer where I work from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. Then I come over here (Marysville) until midnight seven days a week,” she said. “I love the work. I’m a workaholic.”

Natale acknowledges that there were a few problems when Rosie’s Sno Biz first opened. She said their frozen yogurt — one of their big sellers — wasn’t as good as they wanted. She said that happened because they had purchased two used yogurt machines that gave them a lot of problems.

She’s since solved that problem: She bought two brand-new yogurt machines that turn out frozen yogurt to meet her high standards. Natale said they now are able to serve high-quality chocolate, vanilla and sugar-free flavors of frozen yogurt that will please anyone’s palate.

Natale’s favorite part of the business?

“The people, the customers. It’s really fun. People are always saying ‘Wow’ when they come in and see the bright colors. And when kids get their snow cones they’re so excited.”

Looking ahead, the hardworking business owner knows things have to change. She realizes that when she opens her next store, she’s going to have to stop doing the everyday work and just manage because she knows she’ll have to be in and out of the different businesses to stay on top of what’s going on.

Natale knows that costs will go up as well. She said that when she just had the trailer there was little overhead. But with each store, overhead grows — more employees, more employee costs, more rent, higher utility costs.

CONTACT John Hollis at 741-2400 or jhollis@appealdemocrat.com

Filed in: Featured, News • Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

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