Sprinkles: 18 Sweet Years

Sprinkles: 18 Sweet Years

Potomac’s only frozen yogurt shop remains an institution through changing times.

At around 9 p.m. on a weeknight in August, Marty Riskam stood outside Sprinkles in Potomac Village, waiting for the rest of his family to get through the long line of customers anxious to order their treats.

"We like to support the local businesses, they’re very friendly to Bailey, my dog, and give her [frozen] yogurt," said Riskam, a Potomac resident.

As the only frozen yogurt shop in Potomac, Sprinkles has become a Potomac institution for 18 years.

"We come maybe once or twice a week. It has a nice neighborhood feel and the ice cream’s good. It’s one of the few ice cream places around" said Sandy Lavery of Potomac.

"I’ve met a lot of different, but nice people. We have the best boss in the world," said Sylvia Sikora, a current Sprinkles employee.

The owner Tom Orban, has run the store since its founding in 1989. At one point in 1995, Orban was running seven frozen yogurt stores in the Maryland/D.C. area. However, this is the only store he has left.

"The industry died because they [the owners of the franchise] were always two or three years behind in responding to changes," said Orban. "When you’re a franchise operator, you can’t do whatever you want without their [the owners’] permission. … I put ice cream into my stores three years before we were allowed."

ORBAN HOLDS master’s degrees in business administration and social work. Both, he said, are relevant to his work, especially when it comes to hiring employees.

"I figured that I could handpick these kids and give them a chance," said Orban. "That way they could learn basic skills for them to have outside of the work place. … I wanted to create something that would tie social work and business together."

Orban also deals with the regular expenses, which are especially steep in this area.

"Last month I paid $2,400 for the electric bill," said Orban. "Labor is also more expensive here in Potomac because we’re isolated, so it takes people longer to get to work."

During its 18 years of business, Sprinkles has become a place where many in Potomac go on a regular basis, giving it a community feel.

"I like working here because I get a chance to meet a variety of different people. It is an institution in Potomac. … The people here are great," said Benson Panga, a current Sprinkles employee.

"I like getting The Outrageous on my birthday for breakfast, it’s a family tradition," said Carly Swell, age 10, of Potomac.

Orban is always changing to keep his store progressive.

"We used to be a yogurt-only store; now we have expanded to doughnuts, coffee and bagels — without the landlord’s permission I would have gone bankrupt," said Orban. "Nothing stays the same, in life or in retail. Change is constant. … It’s inevitable."