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Ribbon cutting officially opens new yogurt shop

More than a dozen gathered in front of Frutopia Yogurt Shop Wednesday morning for a ribbon cutting and open house marking the official grand opening of the new Centerville business.

Representatives of the South Boston Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, Halifax County Industrial Development Authority and Virginia Employment Commission participated in the ribbon cutting.

 Customers who attended the open house were treated to free samples of yogurt and food compliments of Italian Delight.

 Frutopia first opened its doors to the public on March 10.

 The owner, Viny Ruotolo Sarnataro, said he decided to open a yogurt shop because he really enjoyed frozen yogurt at a shop he visited in Virginia Beach.

 After learning frozen yogurt is gluten free, contains plenty of probiotics and is healthier than regular ice cream, Sarnataro said he knew he had to offer it to Halifax County residents.

“I couldn’t believe how healthy it was,” Sarnataro said.

Frutopia offers 10 to 15 flavors along with over 40 toppings, both changing periodically.

Some flavors include white chocolate mousse, pecan praline and country vanilla. In addition to frozen yogurt, the shop also offers gelato and sorbet selections.

According to Sarnataro, what sets his yogurt shop apart from others is they offer the option to purchase by set sizes or by the ounces.

Sizes include the piccolo, which is 3.95, the medio, which 4.95 and the grande, which is 6.25, or customers can choose to pay 39 cents per ounce.

Frutopia is open seven days a week, and regular hours are from noon to 9 p.m. They may open later on weekends depending on the weather, the owner said. 

Summer hours and winter hours will differ.

Sarnataro said when most people think of ice cream they think of children, and he is striving to create an atmosphere that includes children and adults. 

Because frozen yogurt is a healthier alternative, more of the older crowd will be able to indulge, he said. 

He named the shop “Frutopia” because they offer more fruit toppings rather than candy as a healthier alternative. The logo for the shop is a bumblebee, because without bee pollination there would be no fruit, Sarnataro explained.

The Frutopia owner said later on he plans to hold a contest to name the bee.

Frutopia has a Facebook page with over 3,000 fans, and those who visit the page can participate in daily contests for an opportunity to win prizes.

Sarnataro is the former owner of Italian Delight located next door to the shop, but now his brother, Andrea Ruotolo Sarnataro, is the new owner, and Viny is fully dedicated to running the yogurt shop full-time. 

He is currently in the process of scheduling fundraisers and plans to support local events. One fundraiser scheduled is a car show with the Tinkers Car Club and Italian Delight on May 10.

Sarnataro began his career as businessman in 1990 when he came from Italy to work for his Uncle Nick Palumbo at his restaurant O Sole Mio. 

In 1997 Sarnataro decided he wanted to do something different and opened Italian Delight in a small location. In 2003, he moved Italian Delight to its current location.

He has been awarded numerous awards for his work at Italian Delight including the 2003 Business Person of the Year award from the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce, six blue ribbon awards and a community excellence award from the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.  

Sarnataro said he plans to take all his experience and expertise to Frutopia.