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dessert destination
by Shaila Creekmore, photo by Dero Sanford

Jonesboro’s newest dessert destination has come to town at the direct request of residents for a self-serve yogurt shop, and two short months after opening its doors, Local Culture is an obvious hit.


After hearing many say they would enjoy such a business in Jonesboro, long-time Jonesboro businessman James McDaniel went on the hunt for the perfect business model. His search led him to Starkville, Miss., where McDaniel met Bart Smith. Smith had just opened Local Culture in October 2010, and McDaniel was impressed by his operation.


“Bart has a better grasp of the frozen yogurt business than anyone I’ve seen,” said McDaniel. “His formula for the setup of the store is the best.”


The two formed a fast friendship and quickly began discussing the possibility of opening a second location for Local Culture in Jonesboro. McDaniel and a silent Jonesboro partner decided on a space located between IO Metro and Seattle Grind on Stadium Boulevard, just up the street from McDaniel’s other business, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, and opened Local Culture on May 3.


“I’ve had Popeyes near that location for over five years, and I have seen it get better and better,” said McDaniel. “I like the proximity to ASU, the mall and the retail corridor. The area has lots of parking and it’s easy to get in and out.”


The Jonesboro location is larger and has a few more products than its predecessor in Starkville, and McDaniel has been very happy with the spot and the relaxed atmosphere it provides.


“We have a great space that’s kind of like a club,” he said. “It seems like people just enjoy sitting around visiting - families, college kids - I really don’t know of another place in Jonesboro like it. People just come in and hang out with friends and sit around and relax. It’s kind of like a coffee shop or even a club in a way, but instead, we serve yogurt.”


The shop’s late hours also encourage patrons to come in for a late snack or for a place to hang out when other places in town are closing.


“We get people every night thanking us for being open late,” said McDaniel.

“The other night, we had probably 25 or 30 nurses come in after 11 when they got off their shift. A lot of people work late and they like to come in and wind down before they go home. We have a lot of late business.”


On different occasions, Local Culture will have music by local artists and plans to host other local cultural events throughout the year. Their first big kickoff event was held in June when they sponsored Culture Fest. The week included an art show by local artists and vendors, an evening of music by local musicians and two days of family events. Approximately a dozen people participated in the shop’s flamingo decorating contest.


“(Culture Fest) went fantastic,” said McDaniel. “Art Culture day was one of the coolest events I’ve seen in Jonesboro. We had music inside and out and all these cool artists.”


All of Local Cultures upcoming events will be listed on its Facebook page, which already has more than 2,000 followers since its opening in May. The business has made good use of social media and announces its flavors each day and when they switch out flavors throughout the day.


“It’s important for us to communicate those flavors because people really do have their favorites, and we found Facebook really is the best place to do that,” said McDaniel. “Every day we have people that see a flavor and come in to get that flavor.”


Local Culture carries 60 flavors that they rotate through 10 machines throughout the day. The flavors each day consist of a non-fat, a no-sugar added, a couple of low-fat flavors, a dairy-free sorbet and a vanilla and chocolate flavor. A few of the flavors are white chocolate mousse, peanut butter, birthday cake, bubble gum, red velvet cake, snickerdoodle and root beer float.


Customers dispense their favorite flavor or combination of flavors in their cup and then add their own toppings. Favorite toppings, such as gummy bears and chocolate drops, are contained in 20 dispensers that line one wall, along with other toppings such as candies, granola, cereal and nuts to name a few. On the bar is freshly cut fruits, chocolate sauce, cheesecake bits, fudge brownies and more.


At the end of the line is a scale where each customer’s creation is weighed. The price of each cup is based on weight.


“The customer is in control of what they get,” said McDaniel. “And it’s great for kids because parents can control the amount. We don’t have a kiddy cup or different sizes. You just dispense the amount you want, big or small, and only pay for what you want, not what the menu dictates.”


For those over-achieving yogurt lovers, the person who builds the heaviest yogurt gets his or her name on the board as the “Local of the Week” and earns a free yogurt the follow week.


Local Culture, 1319 Stadium Blvd., is open Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-12 a.m. and Sun., 12 p.m.-10 p.m. For more information, call 935-6225 or view their website at localcultureyogurt.com.