CeCe Moore grew up going to her Grandma Ruby’s home in the hills of North Carolina, spending her happiest moments on her front porch churning homemade blackberry ice cream in a metal canister. She’s held a passion for sweets since those days, one that didn’t fade as she grew older and moved her family from the West Coast to Middle Tennessee. So when the entrepreneur opened up the first Sweet CeCe’s Frozen Yogurt and Treats in 2009, it was a long time coming.
“This is exactly as I always dreamed it would be. I wanted a shop that you would walk into and it’d feel like Willy Wonka,” CeCe said, sitting in the middle of the downtown Franklin shop. “One of my first customers said ‘this is like the Disneyland of frozen yogurt!’ and I’ll always remember that.“
The happiness of the store is reflected through every facet of the sweet shop, from the pink window decorations and ribbon-wrapped plants to the pleasant music that rolls off the exposed brick walls. Conveniently located at Five Points, the corner shop at 500 Main St. is a haven for both kids and adults alike. With more than eight yogurt choices and countless candies, cookies and fresh fruit toppings, the place is usually exploding with happy energy derived from sugar highs.
“CeCe has created a place where you come in and can’t have a bad day,” said Mike Hissong, CEO of Sweet CeCe’s and co-owner of the Franklin store. “It’s her vision for our guests to want to feel at home.”
Mike took over franchise operations in 2011, and together he and CeCe own three individual stores. He says it wasn’t necessarily the product that drew him to Sweet CeCe’s, it was the culture of the company.
“When CeCe is around, I let her make my cup. By the time she gets done with it, I have these memories of a Hello Dolly or a Banana Cream Pie,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. You have an experience and oh, by the way: you get yogurt too.”
For Mike, that experience of constructing a new creation each time is what sets the shop apart from other frozen yogurt or ice cream shops.
“Our tagline is, ‘making sweet memories one cup at a time,’” he said. “It’s turning that cylinder. It’s making new memories while conjuring up the old ones.”
Though CeCe had always dreamed of opening a homemade treats shop, it wasn’t until she moved with her family to Franklin that she acted on that aspiration. She drew from small-scale operations she’d seen in California and expounded on it: she wanted a frozen yogurt shop where the ingredients were fresh, the product was healthy and the joy was contagious.
“This was [co-founder] Brian [Moore]’s innovation and my dream,” CeCe said. “I’m raising four children, so I knew I wanted to be health conscious. The yogurt is a skim milk-based product. I usually use it as a meal replacement!”
Since CeCe opened her first location in Belle Meade in 2009 (downtown Franklin followed six months later), the yogurt franchise has exploded. Forty-one shops have sprouted across Middle Tennessee and throughout the Southeast, and 10 more are on the way. And the customers are benefiting from this expansion: the new “sweet rewards” card the franchise now offers gives guests an even larger return on investment than the punch card.
“Originally it was supposed to be just two shops, downtown Franklin and Belle Meade,” she said. “That didn’t happen! We actually try to replicate the charm of downtown Franklin in each Sweet CeCe’s. This is our signature store.”
Both Mike and CeCe say that they have felt an overwhelming flood of support from the surrounding merchants since the store opened, something that they say is indicative of the type of community Franklin has cultivated.
“From day one, the merchants have been so supportive,” CeCe said. “They love their town, they love what the do… and I’m right there with them.”
“I bring people from all over the country here and they don’t want to leave. That’s what happens when you come to Franklin.”
To learn more, visit www.sweetceces.com or visit their store. Sweet CeCe’s in downtown Franklin is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday noon to 10 p.m.