Let's Yo! Franchise Opening in Old Friendly's Spot

Sign in windows says Pudsters burgers and frozen yogurt shop coming soon.

The more things change the more they stay the same. That's what one could say about the longtime home of a in West Caldwell, where local families flocked for 40 years for a kid-friendly menu and frozen desserts.

A sign recently posted in the window at 632 Bloomfield Avenue reads Pudsters, offering burgers, fries and shakes, and a Let's Yo! Yogurt franchise will soon be filling the vacant space.

Let's Yo! frozen yogurt shops are popping up all over New Jersey—the closest to the Caldwellls opened earlier this year on Valley Road in Montclair. Michael Sobon owns both locations, according to a story on NorthJersey.com.

Sobon was not at the Montclair shop Tuesday morning for comment. 

According to the Let's Yo! website, the menu includes some 50 flavors of frozen yogurt, including nonfat and lowfat versions, but you can also get coffee and a light breakfast. See menu here.

Friendly's in October 2011, and the news of the business closing broke the hearts of many faithful fans.

Back in March, Patch asked readers what should fill the Friendly's spot and suggestions ranged from a Dairy Queen to a Steak 'n Shake franchise. Others recommended a local restaurant, such as , moving in to this location which has its own parking lot.

This won't be the only new burger joint in town. A  opened at the Essex Mall last month.

What do you think of another burger restaurant opening in West Caldwell? Have you tried Let's Yo! Yogurt? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Michael June 19, 2012 at 03:12 PM
It won't last 2 years.
Cj June 19, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Sounds great to me
E.D. June 19, 2012 at 09:52 PM
We have Carvel, Just Delite, Baskin-Robbins, Kohrs, Gelotti, not to mention Calandra's' sells ice cream/Gelotti, how many more do we need? Good luck, but I have me reservations.
Anonymous June 19, 2012 at 10:19 PM
omg I know michael sobon, I cant believe it... He has come such a far way in life from the man i met almost 8 yrs ago when he arrived in Caldwell Nj from Boston Ma. whatever Michael Does he Totally commits too.. I think Pudster is the name of his ENGLISH BULL DOG.. Hats off to you Michael.. Best of Luck... If your the driving force behind this venture its gonna be a great success....
Carmela June 20, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I think it's a great idea, and as for The comment about it not lasting more than 2 years, it sounds like that person has some failed ventures of his own or is to scared to take any risk themselves and feels the need to put down someone who isn't afraid to. I congragulate anyone trying to start a new business in a great community like Caldwell, and I wish them the best of luck. I hope they can become a landmark in the community just like Friendly's was. When they open I will take my kids there and let you know how the burgers are. I already know how the yogurt will be considering I take my kids to the Let's Yo location in Montclair at least once a week. And they are nothing but consistant with great yogurt and a great staff. My kids absolutly adore the Ipads, they play angry birds while I sip on coffee, which isn't to shabby either. As us Italians say "buona fortuna" GOOD LUCK!!!!
Michael June 20, 2012 at 04:01 AM
The first 8 months they will make money hand over fist because it is new. Generally the local women for the most part are educated, married well,and have the ability to stay home with their children and gossip about the newest thing in town. In WC Its a natural desire to want to be the first or to be a trend setter in the clicks that form and yogurt also has the added benefit of projecting a healthy image for their families, but the clicks dynamics change frequently, you are only hot for a short time and must stay current. If yo yo should survive the first year of business (which its marketing strategy should) they will find it very difficult in the second year as the trendy new business is not new anymore, in a high rent situation and where the avenue is broken up into 4 sections, each having its own dessert station. You will never replace ice cream, even liberals will be walked off the planet if they try so I don't foresee "yogurt the whale cakes" flying off shelves anytime soon, breakfast is really the bait to keep the place active up until the prime time yogurt slot kicks in. yo-gi had their people come out and of course they want to put a store somewhere, its a franchise, that's what they do, they generally have nothing to lose because the franchisee has to meet certain financial requirements, he holds the bigger bag of poo if things don't go well. I believe the goal is to fill the vacant building for the towns sake, make a quick profit, and move on to something else.
Kevin June 20, 2012 at 04:42 AM
The new Let's Yo and Pudster's are actually owned by a diverse group of families from Essex Fells, Caldwell, West Caldwell, North Caldwell, and Roseland, most of whom were born and raised in the area. Michael Sobon will manage the business and bring his experience from his popular Montclair Let's Yo location while introducing the local community to the original Pudster's which will offer burgers, hot dogs, fries, and shakes in a family friendly environment. The owners are committed to preserving the nostalgia that Friendly's brought to the community for so many years (from the famous tree to the great shakes) while providing a fresh new and exciting experience for its patrons.
Michael June 20, 2012 at 04:50 AM
We have enough burgers, pizza, coffee, and dessert in town, can we be a little more creative please!?!
Michael June 20, 2012 at 04:59 AM
also pudster means something I cant repeat here. all you hip wannabee rapper kids know what im talking about.
Michael June 20, 2012 at 12:11 PM
oh good it's settled then. it will last 40 years.
joan June 20, 2012 at 02:57 PM
so what does this have to do with local women being educated and stay at home? they stay at home as they arent educated
Richard Kurdek June 20, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Best of luck to this new venture. Ive been in the one in Montclair and it is awesome. Cant wait to eat a punster burger. It is the name of the skateboarding bull dog that Michael Sobon owns. All the best for them.
Richard June 21, 2012 at 08:58 PM
i met michael and a nice young gentleman named patrick @ the lets yo montclair location a few weeks and they filled me in on pudsters/lets yo. It is an excellent idea, caldwell needs something like this!! contrary to the beliefs of some others (cough cough) they told me they were trying to make it a community landmark just like friendly's was, and its is owned by a few local families as someone mentioned above. i frequent the montclair location often, my kids bug me to take them there everyday, and i think this caldwell idea is a homerun!!! best of luck to everyone involved
Michael June 22, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Cough all you like, but hold something of yours as short as your sight. West Caldwell is not Montclair, and although for some reason we try to be; West Caldwell has a 3rd of Montclairs population, Friendly's closed this location because they were going through financial difficulties due to the economy, they would not close a top revenue location to restructure, and since I don't believe that the majority of WC and the surrounding area all of a sudden said " lets not go to Friendly's because I want to pay double for a burger, fries, and ice cream" or " lets all drive to Pudsters in montclair, they are the only place in a 10 mile radius that we can get a burger and dessert" I just felt I would take into account all the outside forces that make something work and not work that you all may not have thought of and state my opinion. You may turn your head and cough, but print this out just in case I am right.
E.D. June 24, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Interesting that this diverse group of LOCAL families decided to open their first location in Montclair rather than in the Caldwells or Roseland where their all from. Can't say there haven't been any vacant stores available.
Kevin June 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM
The local investors in the West Caldwell location do not own the Montclair store.
Sean July 04, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I wonder of there will be any job openings when they open
Josh Rockson July 05, 2012 at 02:07 AM
I'll take the under
Hawk July 17, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Hope this starts a trend, let's get some new blood in the Caldwells, how many Italian restaurants do we need? Best of luck
Michael July 17, 2012 at 08:14 PM
hamburgers and fries is not a new trend, It's not going to start anything so if you like to fart a lot, grab a spoon and start eating tons of yogurt to keep this place around for more than 2 years... 4 years tops if they take revenue from other sources to keep it afloat. To stay around in this town you need the very expensive hard to get liquor license or something that is fast, good, and delivered.
anthony j. popola July 17, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Friendly's was filthy and the service was awful...main reason it closed..and what would you like to see there Michael? Do tell...
Michael July 18, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Anthony, in no way shape or form did they close because of filth and poor service. it was one of the few places seniors could get an inexpensive meal and also school kids and families ate there all the time. They closed due to financial restructuring caused by the loss of revenue from the economy (fewer diners in that financial bracket). If you try to serve burgers and yogurt to those who can afford to pay $10 - $20 dollars a plate this is not going to be a long venture, you need a liquor license to make it. The Cloverleaf would have been gone years ago had the family not recognized the importance of having unique drinks to sell from the bar, a very smart move on their part, a dumb move to try to bring a:burger joint into West Caldwell without a liquor license and in its place frosty yogurt. We already have 3 burger joints in West Caldwell, just because you charge more doesn't mean you are going to get more traffic from that location. It initially will appear to be a success but it wont be a long term success story for the town. I would have to think more on what would be suitable for the location but a family owned diner might have a chance as it has the potential to draw a morning coffee crowd, not sure how well lunch would do, I would target seniors for that slot, but dinner and early evening should do well with the right menu and quality control. A diner has the flexibility of targeting a wider group of diners and done tastefully can add a landmark to West Caldwell.
LookinOutLady July 19, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Should be a great venue for car shows. Burgers with fries, ice cream and cool muscle cars...what else could you ask for?
anthony j. popola July 19, 2012 at 10:28 PM
sorry, Michael, 25 yrs. living here...21 yr. old daughter...the place was never clean, no local kids worked here...poor service...as far as the Cloverleaf goes...mediocrity at best...my wife and i used to call it the "last resort" only going there when nothing else was available...i do agree with you about the license issue..i hope North Caldwell issues another one...the Forum would make a nice little burger & beer joint...
Sam October 18, 2012 at 03:15 AM
I would love to see Red Mango in west Caldwell . Have anyone of you been to Red Mango ?? Their frozen yogurt and smoothies are delicious and they have amazing flavors. They make attractive location with good quality product and service. I hope they open a location in west Caldwell
Michael October 18, 2012 at 01:50 PM
yes yes smoothies for everyone!!!! everyone in town could eat every single day at this location till the whole town has diarhea and it still wont last more than 2 years. It is a fad people, lets get something in here that will stick around for a decade or so.
lola November 04, 2012 at 06:23 AM
I'm with you Michael...I hate the name Pudster...I hate the ''cuteness'' this place is trying to be, the Montclarions are morons who run around looking for the next new thing...except frozen yogurt is not new...I don't think Friendly's has ever been economical...people, open a starbuck's there, maybe with live entertainment... does it have a liquor license? why can't west caldwell be more like westfield, with a gap and all that? is part of the problem what rubino did to the town years ago? didn't let them build more than two floors up?
lola November 04, 2012 at 06:26 AM
are they trying to make this a smashburger? we now have five guys, which is the best... maybe open a charlie brown's, i miss them anyone remember ground round with peanuts in fairfield what happened to the bomb squad for pete's sake? do you know shop rite in livingston now has handles kind of fro yo? and fro yo is not at all healthy!
sierra December 06, 2012 at 02:21 AM
I thought those were only in new york.
Michael January 28, 2014 at 07:37 PM
Well I guess once again I was right.


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