The Gurman twins were smiling. Broadly.
After overseeing the launch of their latest Yeh! Frozen Yogurt and Café outlet, this one at Quartier Cavendish (the former Cavendish Mall), identical brothers Jon and Marvin Gurman were positively kvelling earlier this summer over the kippot they saw a few of the patrons wearing.
The yarmulkes were as much evidence as was needed that the twins had just opened the sole Yeh! location in existence that uses only certifiably kosher ingredients, as a prominent sign on the wall states for all to see.
Make no mistake: the Cote St. Luc Yeh! is not under Vaad Ha’ir (MK) certification, nor is there a mashgiach (kosher supervisor), and the store makes no claims to that effect.
But there is a fat binder on hand that’s bulging with photographic proof that every ingredient used in the self-serve outlet for the frozen yogurt, toppings, crepes and coffee is kosher.
“We just thought it was a very good idea,” Marvin said. “Every ingredient is kosher, and Yeh is the best tasting [frozen] yogurt in the industry. It is made fresh daily, on the premises.
“This is not just a frozen yogurt place,” echoed Jon. “This is a sophisticated yogurt and café experience.
“We want to be the Starbucks of the yogurt business.”
The Cote St. Luc Yeh! outlet, the 54-year-old brothers explained, is their way of giving something back to the community they grew up in.
They said their mother, Zelda, who lives almost across the street, also encouraged her sons to help the mall, which had been struggling in recent years but is striving to recover.
At the same time, they stressed they would not have opened a Yeh! at Quartier Cavendish if it didn’t make good business sense.
Already, shortly after opening, and even though school was out – there are Jewish schools within walking distance – the place was humming on a weekday afternoon, with toddlers, parents, teens, bubbies and zaidies milling about filling their containers with fro-yo.
Its exterior door exits directly onto The Avenue, the main drag of a new residential project developed by the mall’s owners that necessitated half of the original mall being razed to make room for it.
The result is that the store – its interior adorned with Yeh!’s trademark lush pink – is easily accessible from both outside and inside the mall.
The Gurmans first got into the frozen yogurt business in 2008 as a sideline to their main careers overseeing JCorp Inc., a family-founded and Montreal-based multi-million-dollar major player in the garment industry.
That year, Marvin visited what was then the city’s only Yeh! Yogurt and Café store on St. Laurent Boulevard and was bowled over by the self-serve set-up and the quality of the product. Months later, the brothers became equal partners with founders Grace Yeh and Jean-Daniel Nadeau, and last December, they took over the whole business.
They’ve since expanded the network of Yeh! locations ambitiously through purchases and franchising.