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Local Family Excited to Bring Dessert to Wayland Town Center

Berkeley O'Keefe and his family have toyed with the idea of bringing frozen treats to their area for years. With Wayland Town Center, they're getting their chance.

Berkeley O'Keefe and his family love where they live in Sudbury, near the Wayland town line. Everything they've needed during their eight years in town has been readily available and convenient.

Well, almost everything.

“We always felt it was lacking in the dessert area," O'Keefe said.

His family toyed with the idea of opening an ice cream store, even going so far as to dream up ice cream flavors and create them at home.

But a trip to Florida changed the focus a bit.

The O'Keefe family was on vacation in the Sunshine State when they stumbled across Orange Leaf, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop. Over the course of their vacation, the family found themselves returning again and again, trying different combinations of yogurt and toppings and generally falling in love with the concept and product.

"We really liked the yogurt," O'Keefe said, adding that the whole family loves the peanut butter flavor, though he tends to go for fruity options while his kids flock to the decadent toppings. "It's great for the kids because we could just get a little dollop. And I’m picky about things, so I really liked being able to do it.”

Suddenly, the focus for the dessert shop changed from ice cream to something a bit healthier.

Last summer, O'Keefe began working with Wayland Town Center developers to open a franchise location of Orange Leaf. Now, a year-and-a-half later, he's hoping to open the shop before the end of the year.

O'Keefe will serve as the owner and general manager of Orange Leaf and has plans to leave his job with the MSPCA to manage the business full-time.

He's nervous about starting his first business, but he's confident in what he'll have to offer.

“It’s a very family-friendly uplifting environment," he said. "You get to do exactly what you want. You can get it exactly as you want it. You can make it as healthy as you want it, to as sinful as you want it.”

O'Keefe said he's enjoyed working with Orange Leaf because the company strongly encourages its franchises to make each location unique to the community.

With the exception of proprietary jelly-filled beans, O'Keefe said the topping selection is entirely up to the local owner. He's hoping to put a Boston-centric twist to his toppings bar by exploring local candies such as Necco wafers and Boston Baked Beans.

In addition, O'Keefe said he hopes to purchase as many of Orange Leaf's products, particularly the fresh fruit, from local suppliers.

“One of the reasons why we chose this franchise is they want to be there to support, but they want us to do our own thing," O'Keefe said. "What I really hope is to be a part of the community. We are a very community-oriented family. We want to be involved in the community and seen as a high-quality part of the community.”

O'Keefe said he is already accepting applications for employment at the new shop and asks anyone interested to email orangeleafwayland@gmail.com for information.

The shop's Facebook page is already up and running, and O'Keefe said that the Wayland location will be part of the Orange Leaf mobile app soon.

"The business aspect of it interests me," said O'Keefe, who holds a degree in business management. "But it’s also something I can do for my family, my friends and the community. We saw a need and we were able to meet the need.”

Stephanie October 22, 2012 at 01:14 PM
More frozen yogurt? Ugh I liked their original idea of good ice cream. We have FYI and I'm tired of Ben and Jerry's.
JH2433 October 22, 2012 at 01:32 PM
agreed - bring in J.P. Licks or someother homemade ice cream shop!
Stephanie October 22, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Agreed! FYI just opened why does Wayland need another frozen yogurt place? Regular ice cream would be fantastic! Everything else around here is soft serve...over the summer we drive all the to westborough just for a decent ice cream!
lois October 22, 2012 at 03:04 PM
I am hoping that "real" ice cream will be offered at the formerly Finnerty's property. Another frozen yogurt place is not needed, I agree.
bonnie morrissey October 22, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Really people? How about good luck O'Keefe family in your new business venture? How about being supportive of a new small local business? And there is plenty of room for more than 1 frozen yogurt shop...just like there are many nail salons, hair salons, coffee shops, gyms, etc...A little positivity goes a long way...you should try it all of you glass 1/2 empty people!
Jackie Sullivan October 22, 2012 at 03:45 PM
So excited for Orange Leaf to open! It's a great option and so fun for the kids! They love choosing their own yogurt and toppings. And I can have a little treat without totaling blowing my diet! Congrats to the O'Keefe family!
Harriet Rossen October 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Yeah, A new orange leaf in our area! And I am looking forward to sampling all of there new flavors. A big plus for my family is the no sugar added! Looking foward to opening day ! Congrats to the O'Keefe Family :)
David R. October 23, 2012 at 06:43 PM
I would like to know if Orange Leaf is actually a healthy alternative. One of the employees in the Lexington store told me that it is yogurt powder that they mix in the back room with milk. I asked if the frozen yogurt contained active cultures and probiotics like other yogurt stores that I have been to in Florida. She told me that it didn't and it is a frozen treat. I switched from ice cream to frozen yogurt for health benefits and was really surprised when she told me that their product didn't have yogurt active cultures :(
JillStuart October 24, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Frozen yogurt from a powder mix-gross! I thought Orange Leaf was a franchise-hardly a small business.
Orange Leaf Wayland October 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM
David and Jill, thank you for your comments. To answer your question, all frozen yogurt is a treat no matter what store you get it from. With that said, it is in fact a lower calorie option to ice cream and when topped with fresh fruit it is definitely a healthier choice. In addition, our yogurt is made from powder that is dehydrated yogurt. This is then mixed with fresh local milk to make the freshest product possible. Many other stores use a frozen product that is thawed and re-frozen in their machines. We encourage everyone to try our product for themselves. We know you'll love it. Orange Leaf is a franchise, however the Wayland store is owned and operated by local families that have lived in the area for over 35 years. Our business model includes giving back to the community as much as possible. We encourage you to come in and introduce yourself to the owners to get to know us and understand what we are all about.
Laurin Panzano October 25, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I am so excited for Orange Leaf to come into town! I am not happy with the customer service at FYI or the flavor selection. I think it is great for everyone to have choices, but I for one will be going to Orange Leaf!
David R. October 31, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Thank you for your response. Does Orange Leaf have Live Active Cultures in their yogurts. I understand that yogurt is healthier choice than ice cream but the benefits of the probiotics is a real plus when eating FroYo.
David R. October 31, 2012 at 12:48 AM
I finally had the chance to visit FYI in Wayland. The flavors were great. I was happy to see that they had sorbets so my son who is lactose intolerant was able to have something to eat. The staff was very helpful and offered me many samples. Also their toppings bar was unbelievable and their yogurt has live active cultures -- Finally I get my Florida yogurt fix locally.

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