Reality-TV stars have a limited lifespan, so the wise ones, like Hells Kitchen contestant Seth Levine, jump quickly to their next project. Sandwiched in what appears to be a walk-in closet on West Broadway and Spring Street (occupying a space that previously sold trinkets made from cardboard boxes) is Pop Yogurt, Levines latest addition to New Yorks fro-yo masses. When hes not serving Pop Yogurts plain or pomegranate with toppings like chocolate Pop Rocks, honey powder, and hot Nutella, Levine is in the Hamptons plating truffled lobster macaroni and cheese. In May, he opened Georgica with Robert Hesse (another finalist on the show) and the Eldridges Matt Levine (no relation). We spoke with Seth last weekend about his expansion plans.
Why did you open Pop Yogurt?
Ive actually been wanting to open this for almost nine years now. When I attended culinary school in Florence, Italy, this form of frozen yogurt was just starting to become a craze. One shop in particular I would visit daily. It was a very small location, much like the size of Pop Yogurt. I just loved everything about it.
What problems did you have opening the store?
There was a lot of competition in getting the actual store. I knew this was the perfect spot and fought for it until it was mine. The store is extremely small, so making sure everything fit was a key factor.
Do people recognize you from Hells Kitchen?
There is actually a sightseeing tour bus that pulls up in front of the store every day, where at least 50 people at a time come to see me. Its been crazy.
How often are you in the kitchen at Georgica?
As much as I can be. Our busiest times are obviously on the weekends, so I am always there during those times. During the week, I am able to come back to the city often enough to focus on Pop Yogurt. Needless to say, I am lacking in the sleep department.
Future plans include expanding the Pop Yogurt brand and hopefully franchising soon. My partners at Georgica and I are also looking to expand the Georgica brand as well. We have already started scouting the perfect NYC location.
Pop Yogurt, 410a W. Broadway, nr. Spring St.