Successful NYC Owner/Operator Plans to Grow Frozen Yogurt and Soft Serve Brand Nationally
New York City’s leading self-serve frozen yogurt shop, 16 Handles, has been acquired by the brand’s largest franchisee. The 30+ unit franchise brand will now be led by New York entrepreneur Neil Hershman, who plans to grow the regional brand outside of the Tri-State area through an aggressive franchise push. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.
Hershman will immediately retain the role of CEO and owner of 16 Handles. He is joined by investor and co-owner Danny Duncan, who will serve as the brand’s Chief Creative Officer. Duncan is a comedic YouTuber who has amassed over 1.5 billion views on the platform and generated over $50 million in merchandise sales from 2020-2021.
16 Handles was founded by Solomon Choi in 2008. It has since grown to stores across five states and sets itself apart with modern store design, an exclusive and addictive product lineup, and unparalleled customer experience. The menu features 16 different frozen desserts, 50+ toppings and sauces, as well as a variety of frozen novelties such as cakes, take-home pints and toppings to-go.
“I came to New York City in my 20s and started 16 Handles as part of my lifelong dream and passion to create my own brand and build it into something great. Today, I see this same desire and fire in Neil as a successful franchisee who will now take over the direction of this iconic New York City dessert brand,” said Choi. “I want to see 16 Handles grow and evolve, and Neil has the right mindset to set lofty goals and put the right plan together, which is exactly the type of leadership the brand needs.”
Over the past three years, Hershman has quickly built a dessert empire throughout Manhattan, including a newly constructed Times Square 16 Handles location. He currently owns five 16 Handles shops (Murray Hill, East Village, Chelsea, Tribeca and Times Square), last year debuted NYC’s first-ever Dippin’ Dots ice cream store in Flatiron District and has since opened two additional stores in Brooklyn and Times Square this year. Hershman also recently opened Captain Cookie & the Milkman, a popular cookie and ice cream company started in Washington DC, near NYU’s campus.
“16 Handles is a beloved brand in the New York region and there is so much potential for it to dominate in countless other markets across the country. Our leadership team has experience owning and operating our store locations, which gives us unparalleled insight into our products, business model and customers,” said Hershman. “The soft serve and frozen yogurt market has continued to be an attractive investment for operators due to the high margin, low labor business model. 16 Handles created a brand for a broader demographic – not just kids – and continues to bring in new customers with its head turning partnerships, ranging from Broadway Shows like Dear Evan Hansen to national food and beverage partners like Junior’s Cheesecake and Oatly. With the new ownership, 16 Handles has both the benefits of an established business, having decade old stores with continued revenue increases year over year, and a startup, with the ability to test and launch innovative ideas and partnerships quickly and efficiently.”
“It’s important for me to invest in a company that has a great product, but also a company that brings people happiness,” said Duncan. “I recognized 16 Handles’ success in New York City and knew if it could succeed there, it could succeed anywhere. I’m excited to open my own 16 Handles in my hometown of Englewood, Florida, and to help lead franchise expansion throughout the U.S.”
The total initial investment to open a 16 Handles franchise ranges from $228,250 to $671,000. The brand boasts the highest average unit volume in the frozen yogurt dessert space, averaging $734,451. For more information on 16 Handles franchise opportunities, visit 16handles.com/franchise or email [email protected].