Jack Dodson/The Pendulum
Following the sudden closure of restaurant 116 Oak on Lebanon Avenue in Elon on Feb. 1, Local Yogurt co-owner Mike Bergman has been working to quickly transform the shop. The former 116 Oak will soon be renovated into the fourth Local Yogurt in a series of stores opened by the company since 2009, when it first opened in Durham. The Elon shop is planned to open March 5.
When 116 Oak closed, former chef Chris Williams said between 10 and 12 people were laid off but he said he never found out why the store closed.
“It was rather quick,” Williams said soon after the restaurant was closed. “We’re gathering our stuff up and getting out of here.”
The property owner, Joel Brown, couldn’t be reached for comment on the issue.
Since its opening, Local Yogurt has opened shops in Greenville and Raleigh, which Bergman has attributed to early success in the business. When Bergman’s sister, Leah, first came to Elon within the past year, the two decided they wanted to open a shop in the town.
“She loved the Town of Elon,” Bergman said, “loved how the people were out and about.”
Mike and Leah first looked at Sidetrack Grill, which has been closed since early August because of rent issues, but they decided the space was too big for them.
“That didn’t quite fit our needs,” Bergman said. “It’s a pretty big restaurant.”
Brown suggested they look at another building he owned, which at the time was 116 Oak. Bergman said when Brown first showed him and his sister around, he told them about all the development planned for the downtown area as a part of Elon University’s 10-year strategic plan, The Elon Commitment.
“We’d like to be a first mover and create an initiative for other businesses to come to Elon,” Bergman said.
The restaurant’s main product is frozen yogurt and will have two machines each holding four flavors when the store opens. Bergman said he’s hoping to add a third machine, which could hold two more flavors, but that wouldn’t be until later. The shop buys fruit and toppings from local farmers around each store, as long as the food is in season.
“One thing we’ll always have local is our honey,” Bergman said.
He said Local Yogurt is popular with college students, given that its business is run out of North Carolina college towns, even though Durham is less of a college town than the other Local Yogurt locations. Even though Elon is much smaller, he said he thinks the area will be a good one for the shop.
“We’re committed to the fact that Elon is a smaller school,” Bergman said. “We just see it as a longtime place to be involved with.”
Already, he said, he’s had multiple Elon students email him about a job at the shop.
He said the shop will be run by a local manager and he or his sister will come by regularly to be around the store.
“We would find ourselves in the store weekly, between the two of us,” he said. “We hit all the stores once a week.”