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Rent Hike Forcing Zberry Frozen Yogurt Shop To Close For Good, Owner Says

By Andrea V. Watson | July 28, 2017 2:15pm | Updated on July 31, 2017 10:40am
Zenzile "Zenzi" Powell is the owner of Zberry Frozen Yogurt & Treats.
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DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson

HYDE PARK— Frozen yogurt shop Zberry is closing for good after this summer, its owner said.

Zenzile “Zenzi” Powell said her rent has doubled and she has no choice but to move from her location at 1368 E. 53rd St. after almost seven years in Hyde Park.

"I won't be returning next summer," she said.

She said her last day in business likely will be around Sept. 22.

She blamed the leasing management company, MAC Apartments. She said she really had no choice after they told her another business would be moving into her spot while she was still deciding whether she wanted to renew.

She said she's been trying to find a way to stay in the space for the last six months.

"They didn't want to negotiate that rent with me," she said.

Peter Cassel, who handles commercial properties for MAC, declined to discuss specifics of the lease.

"She chose not to renew it," he said. "I'm not speaking about lease negotiations."

Cassel said a small, first-time business owner was moving in but declined to give details.

Despite that, Powell said it's becoming harder for small, family-owned businesses to operate in Hyde Park, and larger retailers and restaurants are moving in.

"A lot of small businesses, they can't afford the rent they're asking for now," Powell said.

Hyde Park probably won't work anymore, she said.

"I would love to stay in Hyde Park or Bronzeville, but they own almost 100 properties and retail, and I'm not giving them any more money," Powell said about MAC.

Powell, a Hyde Park resident and South Shore native, said she got the idea to open the shop after visiting the popular West Coast frozen yogurt chain Pinkberry a few years ago.

When Pinkberry appeared in 2005 she tossed around the idea of doing something similar in her community.

After almost 15 years of working in finance in corporate America, Powell ventured out to try entrepreneurship.

Helping people understand the difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt is one task she said she’s happy to do. Her staff is trained, too.

“I enjoy when people come in and have the misconception that it’s going to be like Dannon yogurt, so a refrigerated cup of yogurt,” she said. “We try to educate those who are really clueless on the differences between yogurt and ice cream.”

Zberry has a wide array of flavors, and it's more than just frozen yogurt. Zberry offers both sweet and tart frozen yogurt, but there are options for those that are lactose-intolerant. The shop also has sorbet flavors for vegans.

The “house favorite” is cake batter, which is always available. The seasonal flavors rotate, so customers might see mint on St. Patrick’s Day or velvet cake and eggnog in the winter. Watermelon sorbet also is popular.

Powell said she enjoys interacting with customers and making them smile — even giving hugs to some of her regulars.

She said even though she was initially hurt by the lease not being renewed she wants to continue doing business in the community.