A new self-serve frozen dessert shop is planned for 109 East Third Street in downtown Winona. The shop will be the first of its kind in the area, and will be similar to popular yogurt shops such as Cherry Berry in Rochester and Yogurt Lab in Minneapolis. “It’s not just frozen yogurt; there will also be frozen desserts,” said Dennis McEntaffer, who will co-own the shop with his wife Carmon. “We’ll have self-serve gelato, Italian ice, custards — those types of things.”
The frozen desserts shop will be named “Nate & Ally’s” after the McEntaffer’s two children, Nate, a 12-year-old at Winona Middle School, and Ally, an 8-year-old at Goodview Elementary. McEntaffer said he became fascinated with the idea of opening a frozen dessert shop when he went on vacation with his family about two years ago and visited a similar restaurant, which he said reminded him of ice cream parlors that were around when he was growing up. “When I was a kid there was a location where you could make your own sundaes, and I used to love going to that store,” he explained. “I’ve been contemplating it for the last two years, and then the opportunity arose, and I decided to pursue it.”
As part of starting this new endeavor, McEntaffer, who also owns Sport & Spine Physical Therapy, will adjust his current working schedule to fit his new business venture. “Carmon will keep her job as a manager at TRW, but I’ll be working full time starting the business,” he said, adding, “I’m not completely leaving Sport & Spine, but Nate & Ally’s will be my focus for at least the next year or so.”
For now, the plan is to have six self-serve frozen dessert machines, the majority of which will be used for frozen yogurt. McEntaffer also said that he plans on putting in a large assortment of topping choices. “We’ll see what the people like,” he said. “We want to try different things with the desserts.”
While many frozen yogurt shops appeal to a younger crowd with brightly colored walls and popular music playing inside, McEntaffer’s hope is that Nate & Ally’s will have a more “coffee house atmosphere” that will welcome people of all ages who want to stop by and treat themselves to a little dessert. “I want it to be more relaxing [than most yogurt shops], more calm and collected,” he said. “A lot of the people I have talked to in Winona over the age of 30 don’t know about self-serve yogurt shops, and I want to open that up for them so they [can enjoy the] wonderful things about self-serve.”
Nate & Ally’s will replace “Inside The Vault” consignment store at the 109 East Third Street location. Inside The Vault will not be closing, but it will be moving to a yet-to-be-determined new spot. “At this point we’re just looking at other options to move our shop,” explained Renae Ahrens, owner of Inside The Vault. Ahrens stressed that Inside The Vault is not going out of business, but that the shop might have to relocate outside of the downtown area. “We would love to stay downtown, but there are no viable retail spaces that fit our square footage requirements,” she commented.
“It’s a three-story building,” McEntaffer said of the East Third Street location. “[In addition to Nate & Ally’s] we want to put in apartments. Not student apartments, but a little nicer one- and two-bedroom apartments.”
The potential apartments will be on the second and third levels of the building. Nate & Ally’s will be on the first level of the building and there will be about 1,500 to 2,000 square feet available on that level to rent to other commercial businesses. “We’re going to try and renovate the entire building while also keeping the historical aspects of it,” McEntaffer explained. “It’s an aggressive timeline, [but we’re looking at] the frozen dessert shop to open by April 2015, and we’re looking at remodeling and doing apartments by the end of 2015.”