Tasti D-Lite slated to debut in Phoenix | Be The Boss

Tasti D-Lite slated to debut in Phoenix


Mar 11, 2013

The first of an eventual string of 40 Arizona stores will begin dispensing more than 100 flavors of the popular frozen dessert this summer.

The stores are coming into a market that has been hit by recession and increased competition, especially from frozen-coffee products.

Made mostly from water, non-fat milk, sugar and corn syrup, the frozen non-yogurt dessert has developed a cult following in New York City, where it first appeared in 1987.

It has been parodied on "Seinfeld" and featured in episodes of HBO's "Sex and the City" and NBC's "The Apprentice." "I love this joint," wrote New York blogger Andy H. on his Web site, thebrooklynnomad .com. "They beat the crap out of those other 2,352 fro-yo chains."

The company is hoping the stores will also develop such fanatical fans in Arizona. Recently opened stores in Houston have quickly developed a following.

Tasti D-Lite was founded by Celeste Carlesimo and her father, Louis Carlesimo. It was acquired in 2007 by New York private-equity investor SPG Partners, which started franchising the concept.

Franchise rights to Arizona have been acquired by Jonathan and Jennifer Kaufman, who plan to open at least 40 Tasti D-Lite stores across the state over the next 10 years. The first will open later this summer at 15425 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale.

The stores are opening as other new frozen-dessert chains such as Pinkberry and Red Mango also are rolling out stores across the country, despite a market hurt by the flagging economy.

Kahala Corp., the Scottsdale franchisor of Cold Stone Creamery stores, has seen a number of its Cold Stone franchisees close because of the recession. But the Kaufmans are optimistic that the low-fat, non-yogurt product will shine against competition as it has in other markets.

The Kaufmans were introduced to Tasti D-Lite several years ago in New York and inquired about franchise rights. At the time, they weren't for sale. When Jonathan Kaufman was laid off from his non-profit fundraising job last year, he checked back and was told that the company had just decided to franchise the concept and that he could be one of the first franchisees.

"We knew it was definitely meant to be," he said.

Tasti D-Lite now operates about 50 locations and has commitments to open 300 more over the next few years.

"We're extremely excited to be working with the Kaufmans and introducing Tasti D-Lite to the state of Arizona," said Jim Amos, Tasti D-Lite's chairman and CEO.