By Kathryn G. Menu
When Nancy Passaretti began cheffing up organic buckwheat Belgian waffles and stocking her pantry with dark chocolate covered acai berries and toasted quinoa, her goal was to entice her children to try healthy alternatives to the standard fare found at the frozen yogurt shops the family frequented in Manhattan. Little did Ms. Passaretti know, she had stumbled upon a new business that would take her to Montauk and as of next week, Sag Harbor.
BuddhaBerry Frozen Yogurt Café, which opened at 43 South Euclid Avenue in downtown Montauk last year, will launch what Ms. Passaretti says will be the company’s flagship store at 125 Main Street in Sag Harbor, the former home of WellNest.
BuddhaBerry will offer its customers a choice of 12 different flavors of frozen yogurt, as well as 100 dispensers that will serve toppings ranging from the healthy—raw nuts, chia seeds and golden flax seeds—to the traditional sprinkles and assorted candies found on the shelves of many frozen yogurt shops.
The shop will also feature a toppings bar with fresh ingredients like fruit (shipped in twice daily to both locations for maximum freshness), homemade granola and goji berries, as well as hot fudge, caramel, fruit sauces and more. An open air Belgian waffle kitchen will allow patrons to make their own waffles, choosing from buckwheat, seven grain, gluten-free and buttermilk—all organic. They will also be able to add superfoods or chocolate chips before the waffles are pressed in the iron.
An Italian coffee bar, serving espresso and cappuccino drinks, as well as over 20 different flavors of smoothies and frozen yogurt shakes, is also on tap at BuddhaBerry in Sag Harbor.
A small retail section will offer merchandise like t-shirts, but also children’s activity books for the students Ms. Passaretti hopes will frequent the Main Street shop after school, using it as safe, healthy environment to hang out with friends, grab a frozen yogurt and work on their homework, similar to what she has seen happen at her Montauk store.
The foray into the world of frozen yogurt began for the mother of four with a mission to get her children to try healthier options when it came to their food choices. As someone who practiced yoga—last year, Ms. Passaretti completed the yoga teacher training program at Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor—and healthy eating habits, she viewed the regular frozen yogurt treats her family was enjoying in Manhattan as an opportunity.
“I knew I couldn’t say, ‘No more junk,’ but I could take something they loved and incorporate these healthy options,” said Ms. Passaretti, who lined her pantry with chia seeds, organic fruits and nuts, dark chocolate and other superfoods her children used to top their yogurt.
“At first they complained, but then they really started to like it and they preferred dark chocolate to junky milk chocolate,” she said. “I started seeing such a difference in their health, the way they looked, their energy levels.”
For Ms. Passaretti, who summered in Montauk and noticed there was not a frozen yogurt shop in the hamlet, leaving her career in medical software to open BuddhaBerry gave her the chance to seize an opportunity, but also begin working in a business she has a real passion for.
She spent a year planning the opening of the first BuddhaBerry, researching frozen yogurt purveyors on dairy farms in Oregon, Wisconsin and Arkansas for frozen yogurt made with real yogurt rather than powders and water. Dedicated to ensuring the shop maintained a healthy environment, and was clean, Ms. Passaretti researched self- serve containers for a number of dry goods, but opted to keep fresh fruits, chopped fresh nuts and the like behind a counter where customers can request them.
Besides its expansion to Sag Harbor, the business has also grown to include a host of organic frozen yogurts, as well as two Greek yogurt flavors and vegan sorbet options.
Ms. Passaretti intends to follow up the Sag Harbor BuddhaBerry—she’s hoping for a May 21opening—with a Southampton location next summer. But Sag Harbor is where she intends to live, moving to the village this week with her family in advance of the store’s official opening.
“Sag Harbor just felt right,” she said. “It’s a nice year-round community, and we already had a number of regular customers who would make a regular trek out to Montauk.”
Now they can come to Main Street.
BuddhaBerry is located a 43 South Euclid Avenue in Montauk and 125 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit buddhaberry.com.