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Bed-Stuy, Get Your Swirl On!

Brooklyn Swirl is helping residents discover their passion for frozen yogurt

One year ago, Jean and Gayna Alerte had no idea they’d be in the frozen yogurt business. Today, it’s their passion.

Yep, a year ago, the married couple was busy growing their respective careers in real estate and other entrepreneurial endeavors.

Jean Alerte, who runs a small jewelry business and public relations company, also was putting the finishing touches on a self-help book he was preparing to publish, entitled “Do Right, Do Good.”

But when the tenants who were leasing the retail space the Alertes owned at 445 Marcus Garvey Boulevard decided to close up shop, things turned cold for them— literally.

This was the second set of tenants in less than three years to fold their businesses in that same space. What’s worse, the second tenants opened only one day before never opening again, after its chef quit on day-one.

So, unfortunately, the Alertes were stuck with the empty space again, in an area, ironically, they considered to be prime real estate.

“So my wife said, ‘You know what? Instead of renting it out to someone else, let’s try bringing something healthy into the neighborhood,’” said Jean.

Health-conscious themselves, the Alertes wanted to offer a fun and nutritious food item that adults, kids, vegetarians, vegans and meat-eaters alike could enjoy.

“We wanted to give kids and the neighborhood other options besides soul food, wine or liquor.”

In a quick decision, they decided to seek out a popular frozen yogurt chain.

“At first, we went after a few big frozen yogurt chains, like TCBY,” said Jean. “But they all said, ‘We’re not coming; there’s not enough people in that neighborhood.’

“I said, What do you mean not enough? There’s like three million people in a one-mile radius of this address. We can’t eat frozen yogurt? I was a little upset," said Jean.

“So, we decided to do it ourselves.”

On Thursday, June 21, 2012, the Alertes debuted in Bed-Stuy, “Brooklyn Swirl,” a frozen yogurt café that sells all non-fat, non-dairy and gluten-free yogurt, along with fresh fruit smoothies, homemade fruit crepes and coffee.

The yogurt flavors – which rotate each month – currently come in yummy options like Dutch chocolate, banana, cookies and cream, sugar-free vanilla, Caribbean coffee and mango.

“When people come in and want to try frozen yogurt for the first time, we often suggest the mango. Even people that are not vegans love that flavor, and when they try it, forget about it. They love it!” said Jean.

There are a variety of toppings, including the standard chocolate, strawberry and caramel syrups, brownie bites, graham crackers and sprinkles. But mostly, they focus on fresh fruit toppings, which they buy directly and locally from Brooklyn Organic.

The décor inside is playful for the children, while decidedly clean and simple for the adults, with two television screens and free Wifi for those who want to come in from a hot day and sit for a while on their computers. Also, there’s outdoor patio seating on a raised wooden deck for those who want to share a crepe and coffee in the afternoon breeze.

“We took our time and thought out everything carefully, as far as how we wanted the inside and the outside to look and feel,” said Jean. “We wanted it to be uplifting, bright, with pictures of fruit; we wanted a clean sleek look… We just wanted to be different from everyone else.”

Brooklyn Swirl is open Monday through Sunday, seven days a week, from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

“Our tagline is 'Discover Your Passion,' because once you come in and taste one of these flavors, you’re not going back to ice cream.

“And you know, the kids love it too! They think it’s ice cream, but it’s not,” Jean said laughing, excited. “I love it, I love it!!”

Ms. Bed-Stuy June 28, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I actually went there today for the first time! If all business owners were as excited and polite as that young man. We would be in a better place. I have been in Bed-Stuy for the last 40 years and I am very proud to see a young black couple not only working together but married. God bless them and continue to inspire others. I will support them every day and I must say the Mango is THE BEST!!!!!
Ms. Bed-Stuy June 28, 2012 at 04:19 AM
One more thing. You have the wrong address. It's 445 Marcus Garvey Blvd on the corner of Macdonough
C. Zawadi Morris June 28, 2012 at 09:19 AM
Thanks Ms. Bed-Stuy, the address change was noted.
Stephanie B. June 28, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Thanks for address correction! I'm going today!
Jean Austin Dunn June 28, 2012 at 11:44 AM
The place is great and the owners are sweet and pleasant to everyone that walks in the door. I hope they stay in the neighborhood for a long long time. Everyone should check them out. They're the best. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Amym718 June 28, 2012 at 11:46 AM
What does "non-dairy" yogurt mean? Can the Alertes explain? I'm curious. And best of luck to them!
elaine June 28, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I'm not a fan of frozen yogurt, but I can't wait to try Brooklyn Swirl and support these local entrepreneurs!
Ms. Bed-Stuy June 28, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Non-Dairy means that it doesn't have any milk. The Mango I had is a non-dairy flavor. I'm a vegan so that's great!
Jad2k June 28, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Just in time for the heat of summer too. Good luck to them!
Richelle Hart Trivedi June 28, 2012 at 08:07 PM
We went on opening day & it was fantastic! My son inhaled the banana yogurt. The place is very welcoming and the A/C was wonderful on a very hot day! I look forward to this becoming a regular stop for our family dessert time in the evenings!
Dee June 29, 2012 at 03:48 AM
cant wait to try it .. also it was very Clean inside which is a PLUS!!!
Brian June 29, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Lovely, caring people, and a great addition to the neighborhood! But I'm as curious as Amym718--what replaces the milk in the non-dairy "yogurt"?
Ms. T July 01, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Went today, and it was great! The owner and his wife are very sweet and kind! Wish more places were around bed stuy like this. Get out and suppport a local healty black owned business!!
Ms. T July 01, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Mods Please fix the address!
Jean A. July 02, 2012 at 04:07 PM
The address is 445 Marcus Garvey Blvd.
Jean A. July 02, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Hello Elaine. Besides Yogurt we also have a Mango sorbet, fresh fruit smoothies & crepes.
Jean A. July 02, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Thank you! I appreciate it.
Jean A. July 02, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Brian it's a sorbet which has no milk.
Southern Comforts July 13, 2012 at 02:32 PM
This is a great place. The customer service is absolutely excellent. I am so proud of this couple and how much care they take to make customers feel special. We need more business owners like this.
william mallory July 23, 2012 at 07:36 PM
My daughter and I love your business.....It really is a healthy alternative to all the soul food restaurants in the area......From the server....to the atmosphere.... much kudos to you and your wife for the alternative...we will be back.
Jean A. July 24, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Hi Mr. William Mallory, Thank you very much!!! We appreciate your comment and look forward to serving you and the community the best quality product.
Jean A. July 24, 2012 at 11:25 PM
Nettie, Thank you so much!
K.L. July 25, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Can't wait to try it. That will be my first stop when I get back to Brooklyn. Congratulations you two. : ))

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