“Faith, Family, and Froyo” may be a slogan that soon appears on the walls of Ella’s Frozen Yogurt & Candy Shop according to Allison Stewart, who, along with her husband Chad, is the new proprietor of the Greenwood business previously owned by visionaries Greg and Lorrie Gray.
“Our faith, followed by family, are the most important things in our life, and what we are most devoted to,” Allison says. “Ultimately, when our time on earth is done, our legacy will be a reflection on those things.”
Chad, who works for Cook Medical, and Allison, who works in pharmaceutical sales for Regeneron, are not strangers to the Center Grove area. Along with their three boys, Hudson, 14, Harper, 9, and Hendrix, 4, they have resided here since 2008 and are an active part of the community.
Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi parish drew the Stewarts to the southside. Chad felt a sense of community the minute they entered the church.
“We were welcomed from day one,” he says. “People recognized us not as regulars. They saw us for the first time and came up right away.”
Indeed, many have become supportive friends and mentors for Chad as he steps into the role of a business owner.
Having a strong faith and sense of community are values shared by the Grays.
“Center Grove is a big area with a small-town feel,” Lorrie says. “It is a faith-based community where everyone supports each other. Ella’s is known throughout the area, and people have been praying for our business for over 10 years. We ran Ella’s to reflect and honor Christ.”
Lorrie feels that Chad and Allison are younger versions of herself and Greg.
“Handing off Ella’s is like a relay,” Lorrie says. “We are handing it off to the Stewarts, who are known and local. We want the best for them, and we want the best for Ella’s. We all have the same high standards. Owning a business was a lifelong goal of Greg’s, and we want it to succeed.”
Business ownership was also a dream shared by Chad, who worked at his grandparents’ car dealership in Canada and envisioned taking it over one day.
“At a young age, I mopped floors, took out trash and just wanted to be there,” Chad says. “My parents owned real estate, and it has always been something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time.”
After looking into some other opportunities, a friend mentioned to Chad that Ella’s was for sale. They were getting ready to sign the papers when the unexpected happened – the pandemic. While COVID paused the Stewarts’ acquisition, the Grays made sure the doors remained open.
“We adapted,” Lorrie says. “We did patio pickup and tried to be as creative as we could be. We prayed like crazy and had an incredible, loyal customer base that helped us succeed.”
On July 1, 2021, the sale became final and the Stewarts officially took over.
“It’s a mom-and-pop business,” Chad says. “The loyalty of their customers is humbling. It has become a piece of the community. They have done a great job getting it to this point the last 10 to 11 years. We want to continue to sustain it and grow it. We think it’s a great product, and we’d love to expand its reach.”
Hiring people within the community and focusing on its schools have been goals for the Grays from the very beginning.
“We have an extraordinary product and extraordinary service,” Lorrie says. “Our employees have been exceptional. Many are high school students. This is a great first job for them. They define Ella’s and set the tone for what Ella’s is all about.”
The Stewarts couldn’t agree more.
“We are keeping it tried-and-true to its solid foundation,” Chad says. “The Grays have hired great people, and the manager and assistant manager have stayed on. They are a huge piece of the puzzle. Even Greg has continued to offer his help. How often do you see that?”
According to Greg, as often as needed.
“Spending time with our five grandchildren is our priority now in retirement, but Ella’s will always be a part of us and so will the Stewart family,” Greg says. “That’s what this community is all about.”
Ella’s is located at 520 State Road 135 A in Greenwood. For more info, call 317-985-3232 or visit ellasfrozenyogurt.com.