WORCESTER – New Englanders will tread through ankle-high snow banks and walk head-on into a blast of frigid air to get to where they need to go.
Same could be said about where they want to go.
There’s a belief that frozen treats should be reserved for anytime, except when the lakes are frozen — yet Brendan Melican, the owner of WooBerry, is proving just the opposite.
“It’s funny, people oftentimes laugh when I tell them this is what I’m doing now,” Melican said. “But New Englanders are hardy. We eat ice cream year round.”
Whether you’re a traditionalist or feeling adventurous, there is a flavor of frozen yogurt and ice cream for everyone at WooBerry.
Melican said, “I’m lucky enough to have friends that are professional chefs in the area that are always making recommendations. It’s the ability to always keep everything we’re serving a work in progress and refine our processes and recipes.”
Melican is a self-proclaimed traditionalist when it comes to ice cream. His favorite flavor? Pistachio.
Everyone knows you can’t go wrong with the classics. Melican always keeps flavors on the menu like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry — the classics became classics for a reason, he said.
Melican’s true passion comes from his creativity. He is aware that “some of the flavors are a little bit outside the norm,” but it is this break from the norm that keeps customers coming back for more. A customer walking in today could try out WooBerry’s Cinnamon Brown Sugar that reminds customers of Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal, or Irish Cream & Fudge Swirl that resembles Irish Cream liqueur.
WooBerry, located at 141 Highland St., opened for the 2018 season on Wednesday, Jan. 24 to a packed house and constant flow of customers lining up to get their frozen yogurt fix.
There’s a reason why WooBerry has been voted Worcester’s best frozen yogurt stop for six years running. Melican says he cares about his customers and wants the best possible experience for them and his drive to bring joy to his customers pushes him to always look for new and exciting ways to draw in a crowd.
Initially a store centrally focused in quality frozen yogurt, Melican has expanded WooBerry’s menu to include: in-house made ice cream, milkshakes, and smoothies.
Melican continues to expand his market by including vegan-friendly options on WooBerry’s menu. The vegan community continues to expand throughout the world, and Worcester is no exception. The process of making vegan ice cream may be a bit more expensive, but Melican wants to include as many people as possible in sharing his dream of enjoying a premier frozen dessert.
“The vegan-vegetarian community in Worcester is incredible,” Melican said. “It’s huge and it’s growing rapidly. And we have seen a lot of interest from both vegans and vegetarians specifically for those offerings. It’s been a great experience for me and hearing back from the community.”
It’s not just the quality of the menu choices that draws foot-traffic to WooBerry, but the overall experience. Melican is proud of what he has accomplished since he purchased WooBerry three years ago. He believes that the model he follows is why WooBerry continues to thrive.
“I think one of the things that differentiates us from the competition from other venues is the model that we use,” Melican said. “It’s not self-service. We do a more quick-serve model. I get to make sure as an owner that every bit of food that we will be serving is up to my standards. If there are any food allergies or sensitivities, my staff will be able to answer in real-time.”
Melican, a Worcester native, understands that something as simple as a parking lot could mean the difference between a happy customer and no customer at all.
“That’s probably the most Worcester requirement,” Melican said as he pointed to the back of the store where the parking lot was located. Customers will be greeted by beautiful hand painted murals on their way from the convenient parking lot to the door.
Still, Melican knows that a majority of his customer base are within walking distance and explains that college students are one of the main reasons behind their success.
“WPI is right behind us, the fact that half the student population is underage, we oftentimes become the place for late nights on the weekends,” Melican said.
Thinking about making an event a little sweeter? Melican thought of a way to bring WooBerry to you.
Initially thinking about investing in a traditional food truck model, Melican was inspired by tricycles designed by Worksman Cycles in New York City.
Melican said, “[Worksman Cycles]still make these freezer units that they used to make for the Good Humor Man. My personal aesthetic fit perfectly and I can bring it to a festival, wedding, event, or whatnot.”
Not only is Melican a fan, but the WooBerry Ice Cream Bike is big hit with his customers as well.
“Everyone falls in love with it,” Melican said. “I think there’s a lot of nostalgia for adults to when ice cream was oftentimes delivered by the Good Humor Man biking around on a bicycle. And the folks who haven’t seen anything like it before think it’s a great conversation starter.”
Want to keep up to date on everything WooBerry? Visit wooberryyougurt.com. The website is updated consistently and the best place to find out more about flavors. You can also check out WooBerry’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Melican said, “We’re changing things up pretty frequently here. Ultimately, the best way to find out what’s happening is coming in and saying hi.”
Cover Photo by Alex Flaminio/Mural designed by Eamon Gillen and Ghost Beard