Los Angeles has a newly minted tourist hotspot in a rather unlikely location — a frozen yogurt shop tucked in the back of a Gelson’s supermarket off Van Nuys Boulevard in Sherman Oaks.
The morning after Meghan Markle revealed to Oprah Winfrey that she knew the value of hard work thanks to her first job “when I was 13 at a frozen yogurt shop called Humphrey Yogart,” it was clear that the casual mention during an otherwise serious CBS special did not go unnoticed. Customers were already waiting and the phone would soon be ringing off the hook.
When The Hollywood Reporter called a few hours after the shop opened to speak to one of the owners, Paula and Jim Sheftel, a young man quickly routed the call to PR, a savvy move for, say, a talent agent’s assistant but a surprising one for a yogurt shop with only one location. It wasn’t always that way, however.
Back in the day, Humphrey Yogart was a standout L.A. chain with six locations and some 80 employees. When Markle suited up — long before her acting days on Suits — she did so at the Beverly Connection location. With that many staffers on the payroll, owner Paula Sheftel can’t recall any specific memories of Markle, says the shop’s temporary publicist Greg Rogers.
Rogers, who is not typically on retainer, is a friend of the Sheftels and a veteran of restaurant publicity with a client list that includes Lunetta, Maple Block and Harold & Belle’s. He’s also a former employee of Humphrey Yogart, which was, during its heyday, a celebrity magnet with famous fans like Madonna, Bette Midler and Drew Barrymore. In the 1990s, the Sheftels sold four stores and kept the remaining one in Sherman Oaks.
“It was my first job when I moved to L.A.,” he recalls. “I worked at the Brentwood store and right after I finished training, I turned around to greet my first customers and there was O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson.”
The shout-out from Markle quickly sold out the stockpile of 10 T-shirts they had on hand featuring the shop’s logo. Per Rogers, they’re planning on rolling out a new inventory of merch featuring the 1994 logo from when Markle worked there. Asked whether they planned to name a frozen yogurt or shake after her, Rogers told THR that it was discussed but didn’t feel appropriate given the weighty subject matter of the former royal’s interview.
He has since said that they’ll offer an off-menu item like a Banana Royale featuring peanut butter, banana and chocolate chips since those ingredients are known to be favorites of the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Asked how the Sheftels are handling the surge, Rogers insists they are pleased but not chomping at the bit to get in front of cameras. “They are not public people,” he says. “And they are super shy.”