White Rabbit hops into Elmwood’s froyo scene - INTERVIEW, PHOTOS
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • July 02, 2013 @ 11:46am
Andy and Alisha Kandola, owners of White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt at both 1750 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda, and the newest location at 802 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo, got married May 4, embarking on a life-long journey that involves a shared professional passion: frozen yogurt.
If you’re looking for a mildly sappy line, read this segment of White Rabbit’s “About Us” section:
Like we said it is a simple story – “Two silly rabbits fell in love with froyo.”
In an interview with Andy Kandola last Friday, we learned a little bit more about the roots of their “fro-yo” passion. Alisha grew up in Toronto, Ont.—which has no shortage of frozen yogurt shops—and when she introduced Andy to a dessert fad that was a late arrival to Western New York, he was hooked.
“I fell in love with the concept,” Andy admitted. “[Frozen yogurt] is pretty health-conscious, and it’s great because I have dessert cravings—definitely a sweet-tooth.”
Moreover, Andy Kandola highlighted the value of frozen yogurt, which is a “pay for what you get” model—White Rabbit charges $.49 per ounce, a slight reduction from nearby Yotality’s $.52 per ounce.
Yotality—a chain we profiled here—is a three-minute walk south of White Rabbit, lending Buffalo a taste of the intense froyo competition that currently exists in other bustling areas—like Queens, for example.
While the entrance and ground-level part of White Rabbit is a little narrow—on a hot summer day, it’ll be as shoulder-to-shoulder as Thirsty Buffalo at 1 a.m. on a weekend—there’s a spacious upstairs eating area and a back room with a couch.
The company’s logo, color scheme and floor layout was determined by Kandola himself, a process he described as a bit difficult in the beginning.
“Structuring [White Rabbit] was a challenge,” the co-owner explained. “The [summer] season was starting to pass us by, though, so we learned from our experience opening the first location and pushed forward.”
All told, White Rabbit can accommodate nearly 50 people inside and another 15-to-20 outside on its fluorescent lime and orange chairs.
When Katie Costello (pictured right with the White Rabbit mascot) and I dropped in on opening day after some last-minute construction delayed the official opening, there were 12 flavors available—and Andy noted that the flavors would rotate every three weeks.
Here’s the flavor list for opening day: candy bar smash, peanut butter toffee, old school peanut butter, strawberry sensation, strawberry tart, original tart, classic smoothie (berries and bananas), zeusberries Greek, banana rama, vanilla, tiramisu, espresso, caramel pretzel with sea salt, breakfast coffee cake, dreamy dark chocolate, tropical sorbet, dreamsicle, and mango sorbet.
If any of these sound familiar, it’s because there’s overlap between Yotality’s offerings and White Rabbit’s—while Andy Kandola declined to divulge where he sources his yogurt, a simple Google search matches his flavors with Arkansas-based Honey Hill Farms, the same vendor as White Rabbit’s chain neighbors.
Like Yotality’s connection to Perry’s Ice Cream in Akron, White Rabbit trusts a local distributor, so at least there’s some money staying in Western New York.
Additionally, the Kandolas will unveil a “signature flavor” soon as well, and Andy Kandola encourages patrons to visit to sample this coming mystery. Hey, you never know when avocados or ramps will get involved, as the former is already a featured flavor at progressive froyo establishments.
White Rabbit offers a few different toppings than Yotality (which had more toppings overall, in fairness), including Andes mint chocolate pieces, cotton candy bits and chocolate rocks (aesthetically pleasing, pictured at bottom).
Regardless of the sourcing, Andy is a graduate of Niagara Falls High School, a product of the University at Buffalo (2007) and a current resident of Grand Island, so it’s clear he’s committed to the area and embracing local—White Rabbit shares its space at 802 Elmwood Avenue with Dolci, which formerly occupied the entire building.
With Dolci now focused on catering—Andy Kandola mentioned that White Rabbit’s neighbors produce desserts for Shea’s Performing Arts Center, among others—the new frozen yogurt shop maintains a small cooler near the cash register of Dolci’s cupcakes (and eventually parfaits and cookies.)
“People [in Buffalo] support local,” Andy explained, “and we’re hoping to collaborate with more local businesses in addition to Dolci.”
Future White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt locations are expected at 7320 Niagara Falls Blvd., Niagara Falls, and in Williamsville, Alisha Kandola explained to Costello.