TCBY is latest tenant to leave Bocage Village

The TCBY outlet in Bocage Village Shopping Center, the last of the frozen yogurt chain’s locations in the Baton Rouge market, will close next Monday after more than 20 years in operation.

Longtime owner Richard Daspit Sr., who acquired the Bocage store and several others in 2004, says increased competition in the frozen yogurt business is the primary factor behind his decision to close.

“There are 53 establishments that sell frozen yogurt in Baton Rouge right now,” says Daspit, who in recent years has also closed his TCBY locations on Highland Road near LSU, Jones Creek Road, Denham Springs and Kenner. “When I first got into this business we were the only frozen yogurt in town.”

Also factoring into Daspit’s decision are the challenges of doing business in Bocage Village Shopping Center in the 16 months since neighboring tenant Dearman’s closed due to a late-night fire. The popular diner, which drew lunchtime crowds to the shopping center, has been under renovation for much of the past year, but still has no opening date.

“I think the dumpster out front didn’t help,” Daspit says. “But I hate to fault anybody else. There were a lot of factors and without extreme marketing and new products to sell and other tenants to draw people in … sales were just down.”

TCBY has lost ground to newer, serve yourself fro-yo chains like Menchie’s and, even, Race Trac, Daspit says. The company has offered its franchisees a renovation package, but Daspit didn’t want to make the investment and couldn’t find anyone interested in buying the store.

TCBY is the latest of several tenants to exit the aging retail center. Earlier this year, Chocollage and Ruffles ‘n Britches, both long time tenants, closed and relocated to The Royal Standard’s 16016 Perkins Road location.
Property manager Mitch Richardson says he has been actively marketing the vacant spaces and has letters of intent with potential tenants but no signed deals yet.

Richardson concedes the renovation of Dearman’s is dragging on longer than anyone anticipated and is a factor in the departure of some of the shopping center’s tenants. But he says tenants have to do their part to market their businesses and attract customers.

“I think some of these tenants are finally waking up and figuring out they can’t just sit there and do nothing,” he says. “A lot of these tenants are longtime, old tenants and they’ve always enjoyed good business because we’ve always enjoyed good traffic and activity. But today you have a lot of competition and you have to reinvent yourself.”

He says some tenants in the center, namely Calvin’s and Beausoleil, are doing very well and have seen sales increase year over year.

As for when Dearman’s might reopen, Richardson says the diner is nearing completion and he is hoping for a July opening. Dearman’s owner David Vangelder declines to comment.

—Stephanie Riegel

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