Pennsylvania pediatrician finds fulfillment in frozen yogurt

After a few decades in practice, she wanted a break from medicine and more time with her kids.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted June 4, 2012

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Bonnie Offit, MD

Specialty: Pediatrics

Location: Haverford, Pa.

Company: Bonnie’s Toppings operates three self-serve frozen yogurt shops along the Jersey Shore during the summer (link).

Annual revenue: Numbers were not available.

Why she started the business: After 22 years of treating children, Dr. Offit wanted to do something different and spend more time with her own offspring, who were in their late teens. Just before Memorial Day in 2011, she opened Bonnie’s Toppings, Self Surf Frozen Yogurt in Avalon, N.J., although she continued to practice medicine as part of a seven-physician primary care practice in Haverford. During the summer, Avalon swells with beach-goers.

“I was turning 50,” Dr. Offit said. “My youngest daughter got her [driver’s] license. I think this is my midlife crisis. This was the kind of business I could imagine myself doing.”

Customers create their own desserts by filling a dish with frozen yogurt and then garnishing it with toppings such as white chocolate chips, coconut flakes and chocolate syrup. They are charged by the weight of their concoctions.

Some customers became partners in two new outlets in Cape May and Stone Harbor, N.J. Much like Avalon, both are beach towns that fill with sunseekers between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The Stone Harbor location also serves coffee and pastries.

Her two children helped her set up the stores and work with her during the summer.

“I know it won’t last forever, but the opportunity to have my kids hang out with me is motivation,” Dr. Offit said.

Why she stopped practicing: Dr. Offit left practice at the beginning of 2012 when she realized that operating yogurt shops and practicing medicine at the same time was too difficult. She intends to return part time, most likely in the winter when interest in frozen yogurt is low and pediatric offices are filled with sick children. “I loved practicing medicine, but something had to give,” she said. “I can’t imagine that I’m not going to go back in some way or another.”

Words of wisdom: “Follow your dreams.”

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