by Paula M. Riley
It may be getting chilly outside, but it is nothing but hot at Chill on the Hill at 5 East Highland Ave.
The long-anticipated frozen yogurt shop is hosting a grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 17. Visitors will find that it’s much more than a place to enjoy a treat.
Co-owners Alison Shoemaker and Leslie Newbold, both with expertise in design, collaborated with architect William Newbold and Anne Kelly Interiors to create a bright, fun, chic space that is as much about atmosphere as it is good yogurt.
From the shop’s swirly logo to the hot pink pillows with white embroidered chill-themed sayings, such as “Take a Chill Pill,” “Chill Out,” “Chilladelphia” and “Chillin’ like a Villain,” every aspect of the space is fun. Above the yogurt machines are six large paper-mâché bull heads, and walls are papered with wallpaper, custom designed by Leslie. The wallpaper has one purple strip among many white and there sits one purple bull head among the white ones.
“We were very specific with those details,” Leslie Newbold said. “We want to show that the purple one is the cool guy, marching to the beat of a different drummer and such. Chill on the Hill is not your average yogurt shop.”
Part of that “coolness” is in the design, but also in the merchandise that will be sold at the shop. Chill on the Hill chillip gloss, smores chocolate bars, dark chocolate with sea salt caramel bars, bracelets, spring water, sweatshirts and T-shirts are just the beginning inventory. Newbold and Shoemaker plan to offer many more items bearing the shop’s logo as well as other hip sayings and themes.
The Chill on the Hill “culture,” as Newbold describes it, will be hip and fun as well. Future events will include art shows, birthday parties, movies nights. With a large Apple TV and Sonos System, guests can enjoy movies, karaoke and photo collages. The Apple iPad Registers make that easy.
“This is the coolest thing ever,” Shoemaker said. “When you check out, if you want, we can take your picture and immediately put it on Instagram, Facebook, FourSquare, and Tweet it or have it displayed on our Apple TV.”
Let’s not forget about the yogurt.
In the all-self-serve shop, customers will select from 10 flavors and kinds of frozen yogurt including dairy-free, gluten-free, fat-free, no sugar added, vegan and peanut free options. Each of the five electro-freeze frozen yogurt machines will host two flavors; customers may get one flavor or a blend of the two.
Peach mango sorbet, pumpkin, raspberry pomegranate tart, caramel salted pretzel, chocolate and cake batter are some of the flavors that will be available when Chill on the Hill opens on Saturday. Beside each machine are labels with the flavor name and dietary comment (e.g., dairy-free).
A long toppings bar offers endless choices to accompany the yogurt. Chocolate pretzels, Oreos, gummy bears, sprinkles, and granola are in the dry toppings section. All the peanut butter toppings are completely separated as are the refrigerated toppings like cookie dough, mangoes, kiwis and blueberries.
Every dish can be finished off with caramel, hot fudge, honey, and butterscotch drippings. The customer then places the cup on a scale, and the flat rate of 49 cents an ounce is charged. A long bench, covered with a white patent leather cushion alongside white, round, tulip tables and pink Lucite chairs provides perfect seating needed.
The road to opening Chill on the Hill has been a long and arduous one for Shoemaker and Newbold.
“It was a huge learning experience,” Shoemaker said. “Neither of us had any idea it would be so hard.”
The pair had hoped to open during the hot, dog days of summer but faced major delays when the building’s previous tenant, Balance, was unable to move to its new location due to zoning issues. Then, Chill on the Hill owners had to go through their own zoning reviews, health department certifications and address neighbor concerns. Newbold says that they have done all they can to minimize the footprint of Chill on the Hill including using 100 percent compostable spoons, cups and napkins, putting the dumpster in the rear of the building and implementing a high-tech security system.
They were set to open earlier this month, but Hurricane Sandy disrupted deliveries and they had to delay once again.
“We never gave up,” Shoemaker said. “We think Chestnut Hill needs a healthy snack alternative that is great for kids and families. We think it is a really positive and fun place.”
Chill on the Hill is open Sunday through Thursday, 12-9 p.m.; Fridays, 12-10 p.m., and Saturdays, 11-10 p.m.