Selling sweetness at Menchie's, along with a commitment to give back to the community
When Peder Koyama and Ernesto Pinero opened their Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt store at Alhambra's Renaissance Plaza, they had a mission beyond selling sweetness: they also wanted to give back to the Alhambra community. The 17-month-old franchise store has since sponsored fundraisers for various causes including Muscular Dystrophy Association, Diabetes Association, nursing homes, and Alhambra girls’ softball. The owners, Encino residents, spoke with Alhambra Source about their love for their adopted city and the importance of supporting local businesses for the City’s vitality.
Why and how did you start this business together?
EP: We’ve been business partners before. I was working as a bank manager and doing a loan for a Menchie’s franchisee. When I ended up losing my job at the bank, I talked to Peder about Menchie’s. We love frozen yogurt. We really liked the Menchie’s culture and business plan — the company emphasized business owners’ responsibility to give back to the community that supports us. Since we’ve opened, we’ve done a lot of fundraisers.
Why did you choose Alhambra?
PK: The real estate agent actually introduced us to Alhambra. We were looking from San Fernando Valley all the way out to Palm Springs as a place to open. I used to work in this area and I’m back working at a full-time day job in Temple City.
Why is it important for Alhambra residents to support local businesses?
EP: It did look like a ghost town when we first got here. We have seen positive changes with the new construction that is being built down the street. There are several new businesses. Residents have a responsibility to support the city with their pocket. If you’re spending your money somewhere else, you’re not doing your part.
The recurring theme is that people in Alhambra don’t shop in Alhambra. They go to other cities like Pasadena. It would be nice if Alhambra residents would spend their money in Alhambra, because the sales tax helps to fund the police department, school district, and fire department. It cuts crime because there’s money to be spent on those services. Real estate values go up. Everybody benefits by going to Alhambra businesses and supporting those businesses.
PK: We’re very grateful to this city. We love it here. Everyone at City Hall has been very supportive in terms of us opening. We’re hoping that the efforts with the Downtown Alhambra Business Association, ideas such as Mosaic Art Walk, that Ernesto has come up with, and Alhambra Source can really get people interested in staying here locally. There’s a lot to offer. We really want to promote the other businesses in the area because we know how difficult it is.
Menchie's is located at the Renaissance Plaza, 9 E. Main St, Alhambra, CA 91801. It's open Sunday - Thursday, 11:00am-11:00pm, and Friday - Saturday, 11:00am - midnight. Connect with Menchie's via Facebook and Twitter.
Interview was edited and condensed.