Chocolate is childhood for Betsy Mullins.
The south Mississippi native grew up in and around her mother’s small business, The Chocolate Delight, in Natchez and says sweets were always around. “You might think that would make me not like sweets as much, but it’s the total opposite,” she says. “To this day, when I go home, there are cake scraps and cookies my mom has done for someone and I’m first to dig in.”
Mullins has entrenched herself in the “family business,” so to speak, as she begins her work as general manager of Fondren Fro-Yo, a frozen yogurt shop opening Wednesday in Fondren.
A University of Southern Mississippi graduate, Mullins did stints at C’est la Vie and T-Bone’s in Hattiesburg before moving to Jackson, working at Brent’s making desserts and ice cream. In 2014, she realized a long time dream, moving to New York City to work for the famed Milk Bar. Calling the nearly year there “fun” and “challenging,” she says, it was what she was looking for. “It certainly built up some confidence… definitely an achievement in my life to work there.”
It also built up her resume.
When she returned to Jackson last year, designer Anthony Ritter, working with Scott Allen’s A+ Signs on graphics for Fondren Fro-Yo, asked if Allen knew of anyone who had the background and interest to run his treat shop. Mullin’s boyfriend, Greg Gandy, works for Allen – and the link was made. “Anthony and I met and it was a good connection,” she tells. “I was excited for something new in Fondren and wanted to be a part of it.”
Originally planned to open in November, Fondren Fro-Yo was delayed by Ritter’s projects at his GLO Design and Mullins’s culinary obligations, both slammed during the holidays. The time wasn’t wasted though: Mullins worked with Millie D’s Frozen Yogurt in Belhaven in the interim to learn the business (Ritter bought Millie D’s equipment when they closed late last year).
When the shop opens Wednesday, Mullins says they’ll be ready. Ten flavors, plus five “swirl” taps, fruits, cereals, nuts, candy, syrups and sauces await. Go big or go chill: Fondren Fro-Yo, priced per ounce, is completely your creation. Mullins says, “It’s an individual and unique thing, for someone to pick their flavors and toppings, and we don’t have much to do with what they decide.”
Family and kid friendly, the Fondren Fro-Yo interior is funky and pink – Ritter’s design – and Mullins says, “it just feels like fun.”
It’s the same kind of fun she had, getting into “more than I should have” in her mom’s shop. “I remember helping her make chocolate alligators with those molds and decorating things. I guess it’s engrained. It made me feel good to do that. And this place kind of takes me back.”
Fondren Fro-Yo will be open Monday-Saturday, beginning Wednesday, February 3, from 11am-7pm. Once the weather warms more permanently, Mullins hopes to expand hours to 9pm and plans to be open on Sundays.