Too often we hear neighborhood stories about friends, or friends of friends, who have graduated college, and due to various economic reasons, are forced to find work outside of their degree program. Many times these stories end with Johnny finding a job as a mechanic or Lucy becoming a waitress, but in the story of E.J. and Heather Eleazar, the graduates created their own future by designing a business that attracts community patrons in droves.
The business that the Eleazars designed creates proprietary frozen yogurt blends that kids can't stop talking about.
"It's a great place for kids our age to hang out," said 14-year-old Sam Kershes. "They have food that we like, and will eat, that's nutritious and appeals to our generation."
Heather attended college at Virginia Commonwealth University and E.J. earned an IT degree from TESST College of Technology. Heather had no aspirations to enter the corporate world and never worked a nine-to-five job. After completing her volunteer work as a psychology major, Heather found work as a bartender in Washington, D.C., but right before graduating she thought to herself, "what am I going to do?"
"I want to do business," Heather recalled. "It was like a light bulb went off inside of my head."
Heather and E.J. met in 2006, and in early 2007 the two began working on their own recipe for frozen yogurt. With only a home ice cream maker, an empty bank account, and a dream, the duo spent two years tweaking to create what E.J describes as the "perfect taste and perfect texture" of frozen yogurt. During that span the couple also researched other businesses to purchase and even tried starting a business in home repair, but in 2008 they met another entrepreneur who was trying to start his own frozen yogurt blend, and eventually the Eleazars invested in his brand.
In 2010, the Eleazars decided that their idea for frozen yogurt was different from the vision that their partner had in mind, so they opened a separate location in Clifton and named it after their daughter's favorite food: Bluberi.
What makes Bluberi so appealing to parents is the fact that the yogurts are a nutritious treat that their kids enjoy. A one-ounce serving of the original yogurt blend is only 25 calories and contains no fat. What makes Bluberi so appealing to kids is the modern, chic furniture, the hip atmosphere playing uptempo dance tunes, and of course, the seemingly endless combinations of toppings and flavors which can be added to create a different taste bud sensation with every bite.
Bluberi only uses fresh, never frozen, toppings which are chopped every few hours. In addition to the run-of-the-mill choices such as chocolate sprinkles, shaved coconut, walnuts, almonds, and granola, Bluberi offers toppings not regularly found in yogurt shops, such as mochi, kiwi, raspberries, blackberries, and seasonal fruits such as pomegranate, watermelon, and papaya.
Bluberi also offers yogurt and fruit smoothies, as well as a high-end New York based brand of loose-leaf teas called Tavalon. There are currently over 40 toppings that can be added to a Bluberi treat and new flavors will be introduced to the Woodbridge location.
"[The Woodbridge location] will be one of our flagship stores," said Heather. "Stonebridge Potomac Town Center will be the premier shopping center. It will bring an exciting mix of businesses and great interest to this area and we are very excited to be a part of this growing community. We feel the atmosphere and energy that the center brings to this community matches our brand perfectly well."
Now at age 29, the Eleazars are adamant about opening family oriented locations where kids and adults can gather for family night out, after dinner or a movie; and Bluberi is involved in many community sponsorships in the Clifton area, such as the Parent Teacher Student Association, various school sports teams and auctions which raise money for local academia. They plan to continue their community involvement in the Woodbridge area.
"We are [also] bringing in some unique and exciting interior designs to the Woodbridge location," concluded Heather. "You will have to wait and see the final product!"
The Potomac Town Center location is scheduled to open in the late fall of 2011 and hiring will begin in the upcoming months. Interested applicants can email firstname.lastname@example.org.