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January 27, 2014

Jeffersonville shop revamps into dual coffee, yogurt store

Swirlz offers Kid Zone, high-definition TV; has plans for art mural

JEFFERSONVILLE — Chris Hicks may not be a coffee expert, but that didn’t stop him from opening up a shop just off 10th Street in Jeffersonville.

But this is no ordinary coffee joint.

The former Swirlz yogurt shop next to Meijer has been transformed into a dual yogurt and coffee shop — and that’s just the beginning.

The shop features several new additions, including a Kid Zone for children to play, a high definition TV, more than 1,200 music videos and baked goods, courtesy of Sweets by Morgan, which is in Ann’s By The River in downtown Jeffersonville.

“There are a lot of things there that I’m trying to do that are what I think of as beyond a ‘yogurt shop,’ because I really think that model of the yogurt shop needs to evolve into something that has more breadth to it in what it can offer people,” Hicks said.

Hicks, a native of Cincinnati who commutes to and from there, became interested in restoring Swirlz after finding out the shop closed in October last year. After visiting the building and meeting with the owner, though, Hicks said he became more intrigued with the area and the history of the city.

“I thought [the previous owner] did a nice job with the place, but it looked like a franchise,” he said. “I thought I could take it over and then try to foster more community-oriented stuff that would draw more people in from the community.”

The yogurt from Swirlz is delivered from Honey Hills Farm in Arkansas, while its coffee is shipped from Seven Hills Coffee Shop in Cincinnati. With a state-of-the-art espresso machine imported from Europe, Hicks said everything from lattes to hot chocolates can be ground and brewed within three minutes.

“We can do it so fast with the equipment we have and the quality is so high. I find that’s something that makes it very unique and compelling for people who like coffee,” he said.

The idea behind serving yogurt and coffee together came from a seasonal point of view, Hicks said. While “froyo” may be a popular item in the summer months, during the colder months, it can lose its appeal.

But Hicks said he’s surprised at the amount of customers still requesting yogurt in the winter.

“I can’t believe how when it’s super cold outside how many people still want frozen yogurt frequently,” Hicks said. “I’m all for it. I’m thumbs up. Me, myself, I would probably want a hot drink more.”

And with the “lowest prices on frozen yogurt period in Clark County” at 39 cents an ounce, Hicks said he’s proud they have such a low price combined with a high quality.

In addition, the shop also sells it’s own build-it-yourself smoothies.

“There’s probably some disgusting combination that you could have and make a horrible smoothie but so far they seem to come out OK,” he said.

Although numerous changes have been taking place for Swirlz, Hicks said he still has more planned for the future.

One project is creating a timeline of Jeffersonville’s history along one of the shop’s walls. Hicks said he would like to have local artists and schools sign up to help create certain time periods of the city’s history, with the timeline ending in the Kid Zone.

“Not only would it be a really good project, but it would be very positive that we could have the end of it be that ultimately the kids are the future of not just the U.S. but also of Jeffersonville and Clark County,” he said.

From teenagers to moms, Hicks said he wants everyone to be able to get something out of visiting Swirlz.

“I think it needs to sink in of the idea that I could be a dad, bring my kids to Swirlz, sit there and watch a game while my kids eat froyo and hang out in the kid zone,” he said. “It takes a while for people to realize what you have there.”

Hicks said in the end, though, it all comes down to the experience people have.

“At the end of the day, this is ultimately an experience for people,” he said. “The yogurt is fantastic, the products we have are fantastic but just as important is making an experience that people really enjoy.”

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