By MOLLY MULSHINE
First it was cupcakes. Now it’s fro-yo.
Just as three cupcake shops invaded Red Bank in matter of months, two new self-serve frozen yogurt dispensaries are hoping to grab business from Monmouth Street veteran Frozsürt.
Yo Mon Yogurt, which is set to open in approximately four months in City Centre Plaza at Maple Avenue and West Front Street, gained permission from the borough zoning board Thursday night to set up removable blue benches outside its doors at both Water and West Front streets.
Michael and Jennifer Mann, of Little Silver, plan to open Yo Mon Yogurt at City Centre Plaza after the current space’s tenant, AlphaGraphics, moves to 68 White Street, former home of Cigars Plus. The pair owns another Yo Mon location on Main Street in Freehold, where they sell frozen yogurt out of self-serve dispensers with do-it-yourself toppings.
The bright blue benches they wish to place outside are 30 inches or two and a half feet wide, while the sidewalks are 10 feet wide on West Front Street and 11 feet wide on Water Street. They would be removed during inclement weather, and their appearance will keep the Red Bank Yo Mon’s aesthetic consistent with that of the Freehold location, they said.
Board member Rosemary Minear called the benches “unattractive” and voiced concerns that they would hinder pedestrians’ ability to pass by.
“There’s a lot of foot traffic and strollers on those streets,” Minear said. “People will be sitting out their with their feet hanging out.”
She also suggested the store’s employees will be unable to keep up with the trash that could result from customers eating outside.
But City Centre Plaza manager John Bowers, of Philip Bowers Realty said that there are eight trash cans around the strip mall’s exterior, and that it is in the store owners’ interest to keep things tidy in order to attract customers.
Although Minear objected to the benches’ blue hue, zoning board vice chair Tom Williams called them “kind of fun.”
“I think it will be a positive to have some sort of street scape facing Front Street instead of just a wall or the backs of businesses,” Williams said.
Minear and board member Vincent Light voted against the application after citing concerns about the benches’ appearance. Board chair Lauren Nicosia, Raymond Mass, Karen Waldman and Jesse Garrison voted in favor of the benches.
The news of Yo Mon’s plan comes two months af Blissberry Frozen Yogurt announced plans to open a self-serve yogurt shope on Broad Street, just around the corner from Frozsürt, which opened in March, 2010. Blissberry has yet to open.