Frozen yogurt shop fills hall’s retail openings

Chilly Billy will serve 30 flavors of yogurt, and coffee in the morning.

Jennifer Bissell

Even though plenty of snow fell on Minneapolis this weekend, entrepreneur Bill Marker is already preparing to cool down Dinkytown for the summer.
In late March, Marker will open Chilly BillyâÄôs, a frozen yogurt shop, which will fill the final vacant retail space below Sydney Hall. The spot, next to the existing Erbert & GerbertâÄôs Sandwich Shop on 15th Avenue Southeast, has been empty since the complex opened in September.
Originally, a Wells Fargo bank branch was going to fill the space after moving during the Dinkydome renovation. But in the end, the branch decided not to return, said Sydney Hall Director of Residential Management Scott Anderson .
At least eight businesses left during the Sydney Hall construction and Dinkydome renovation. Chilly BillyâÄôs will be one of three new businesses to open since then. In addition to Chilly BillyâÄôs and CVS/Pharmacy, a new menâÄôs hair salon is in the works, Anderson said.
The buildingâÄôs retail space seems to have filled in slowly, but Anderson said the leasing has gone smoothly and that Chilly BillyâÄôs should fit in well with the neighborhood.
âÄúThey have a nice product and I think that thereâÄôs a need for it around town,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúIâÄôve seen [frozen yogurt] do quite well around other locations and other universities.âÄù
Chilly BillyâÄôs self-serve shop will offer 30 rotating flavors âÄî tart, chocolate, cake batter, blueberry-pomegranate âÄî and 40 different toppings like fruit, granola, chocolate, cereal and mochi, a Japanese rice cake.
The average price for a cup will be $5 and the shop plans to open at 7 a.m. with coffee to go.
âÄúItâÄôs going to be perfect for the kids,âÄù Marker said. âÄúCome in four, five times a day.âÄù
Marker, a University of Minnesota-Duluth alumnus, said he and his wife, a Carlson School of Management alumna, are big fans of Gopher sports, which factored into their decision to start the business on campus instead of in Shakopee, Minn., where they live.
Marker said he was driving down 15th Avenue Southeast after a sporting event when he saw the âÄúfor leaseâÄù sign on the first floor of Sydney Hall.
âÄúI thought, âÄòWhat a much better location,âÄôâÄù Marker said. âÄúThe building is much nicer âĦ and it just seemed to be perfect traffic.âÄù
The shop will be the couplesâÄô first small business, though Marker said heâÄôs open to franchising. Frozen yogurt is hot along the West Coast, slowly dripping its way to the Midwest, Marker said; one reason heâÄôs confident heâÄôll succeed.
University sophomore and Sydney Hall resident Aubrie Bohman said she was looking forward to Chilly BillyâÄôs opening but didnâÄôt realize DinkytownâÄôs other frozen yogurt shop, Fru-Lala, was so close.
âÄúItâÄôs definitely competition,âÄù Bohman said. âÄúIâÄôve heard itâÄôs really good.âÄù
However, Bohman said she could see Chilly BillyâÄôs succeeding considering its proximity to high-traffic CVS and Sydney Hall.
With construction beginning Thursday, Markers said heâÄôs anxious to get to know the community better. HeâÄôs already joined the Dinkytown Business Association and is looking for sponsorship opportunities. He said heâÄôs excited about the possibility of working with Gopher sports teams.
âÄúOur customers live and work here and go to school here,âÄù Marker said. âÄúWe want to be a part of the community. We love the Gophers.âÄù