Short lived with high hopes dashed: why did Pudsters close?
Pudsters in West Caldwell was a highly anticipated local burger and frozen yogurt place that seemed to be destined for success. Built on the very same spot as Friendlys, it seemed like a cool modern reboot of the old ice cream and burger idea: a family spot that was fun, affordable and accessible to all.
But now, the doors are closed and the approximately 15 local investors, many of whom are in construction and/or other people who either donated their work in kind or also put up money as an investment, are shaking their heads. What happened?
The closure of Pudsters will now become a legal battle, as numerous investors fight to find out in court if they can get their money back.
Yet, looking at the timeline of this hot spot, perhaps the hidden facts are more obvious than you may believe.
Their soft opening on June 31 was a big hit. So many people showed up to eat at Pudsters that people lined up outside to wait their turn.
But in spite of the heavy traffic, with kids and adults enjoying the modern day burger/yogurt spot, just opening those doors was mighty expensive.
The entire building had to be renovated, since the Friendlys was a very old and outdated style. Though a very affordable fast food place, the design was high end, with gorgeous details from top to bottom, including cool photo montage wallpaper and retro plaid stools.
The rent for the property and building was $7,500 - steep for such an affordable spot. But, there was plenty of free parking and the location was on Bloomfield Avenue, easy walking distance from the middle school.
Yogurt machines are expensive, each one costing at least $12,000 (though some cost much more). And, they are labor heavy too, since they must be thoroughly cleaned daily.
As anyone knows, creating a new restaurant is expensive too, since it also includes the use of an architect - and at Pudsters the design went from one architect to another -so two were used.
Add in new floors, design elements, state of the art machines and wifi toys such as the Ipads, a soda machine that creates hundreds of flavors, flat screen tvs in the bathrooms, and so much more, and you can imagine the cost.
But still - this was a fun, hot spot for many. Yet, no matter how busy it may have been on weekends or after school, the average price was very low, often around $10.
And, doesn't a business need more than 6 months to make a profit?
As of this time, there are no easy answers as to why it failed.
Sources from numerous persons say it is closed and won't reopen. Also sources have said there were "personality" problems between the main owner and some of the local investors.
The co-owner of Pudsters, Michael Sobon, owns Let's Yo in Montclair, another hot spot that seems to be doing well. But, unlike Pudsters, Let's Yo only sells frozen yogurt - and it is located in Montclair.
With so many local investors, all looking for answers and perhaps their money back, this is a legal matter that will sadly end up in court, and perhaps remind everyone of something daunting: stats show that 9 out of 10 restaurants fail in their first year.
As a food reviewer and all-around cheerleader for all of our local restaurants, I wish all of the investors of this adorable spot well, and hope that somehow it all works out.
Sadly, Pudsters looks like a bust - but in the world of business you just never know, especially since Pudsters such is an innovative idea.
Updates to follow.