Employee becomes new owner of TCBY Shorewood

Jen Howard, former co-owner, said Jana Brodeur is ‘a very wise person and an old soul’

Jen Howard, right, stands with Jana Brodeur at TCBY frozen yogurt on Thursday June 6, 2024 in Shorewood. Jen sold the Shorewood TCBY to her long time employee Jana.

A 25-year-old TCBY Shorewood employee now is the store’s new owner – and her daughter Avery is scarcely a week old.

Jana Brodeur of Joliet said she started working at TCBY Shorewood after her sister Kayla Kijowski-Bartholomew of Joliet – a TCBY Shorewood employee for 12 years now – suggested it during Brodeuer’s senior year at Joliet West High School. Brodeur became the new owner June 1.

Jen Howard, who opened TCBY Shorewood 13 years ago with her husband Vic Howard, said Brodeur has done “a fantastic job” during her seven years at TCBY and “put her whole heart and soul in it.”

“She is – for her age – a very wise person and an old soul,” said Jen Howard, who also is president of the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “So when we thought about selling, she was the first one we approached.”

Jen Howard said she and her husband closed their Naperville location about five years ago.

“It got to be a lot – and Shorewood outpaced the Naperville store by three times,” she said. “That Shorewood location has been just a perfect spot.”

Adding the catering service and food truck boosted TCBY Shorewood’s success, Jen Howard said. As she grew busier with the chamber, she confidently stepped back from daily involvement at TCBY Shorewood because of its great team and leadership, she said. The time just felt right to sell.

“We wanted to leave the shop in the community, in the hands of someone we respected and we knew would continue to provide the great service that we always have,” Jen Howard said.

Jana Brodeur, long time employee at TCBY frozen yogurt, took over as the new owner of the Shorewood location on June 1, 2024.

She also respects Brodeur’s commitment to Will County.

“She’s not going anywhere,” Jen Howard said. “It’s nice to see young people coming back to the area and to the community and wanting to stay here.”

Living and working in Will County makes perfect sense to Brodeur.

“I like where my roots are, and I like to build on those,” Brodeur said. “It’s a sense of comfort for me. I like knowing things and I like knowing what’s going to be happening. And I like the relationships I build with people. Knowing I have good relationships is something that is very important to me.”

A multiskilled entrepreneur

Brodeur said she graduated from Joliet West in 2017, earned an associate degree in 2019 from Joliet Junior College and then studied business entrepreneurship and small business management at Illinois State University in Normal.

She always wanted to own a dance studio, but TCBY “fell into her lap,” Brodeur said.

“How could I say no after being there so long and loving the environment?” she said.

Brodeur said she started at TCBY Shorewood as a crew member and then worked as lead shift manager. Brodeur was offered the full-time manager position after she completed a summer internship at TCBY Shorewood.

Brodeur has performed “every aspect of the business” during her time there, from cleaning machines to making deliveries, she said.

TCBY frozen yogurt new owner Jana Brodeur stands with her husband Trevor and newborn daughter Avery on Thursday June 6, 2024 in Shorewood.

She said Vic and Jen Howard approached her about buying the business in early 2023.

“They saw how well I was doing with it and wanted to pass it down to someone who would care about the business, which I do tremendously,” Brodeur said.

She also teaches dance, starting at the Fore Arts Center in Channahon and Morris in 2021 after graduating from college, and she plans to continue since dancing “brings me joy.”

“I’ve been dancing since I was 9,” Brodeur said. “It’s just something I’ve enjoyed my whole life. My sister is actually the one who got me into that as well. I started teaching at 16, and I’ve been teaching ever since.”

A family environment

Kijowski-Bartholomew, lead shift manager, said she’s worked at TCBY Shorewood since graduating from Joliet West. She recommended the job to Brodeur, confident that she would love the work, its family atmosphere and longtime employees and customers.

Some of the high school students now working at TCBY Shorewood came to the store when they were children, Kijowski-Bartholomew said.

“We knew she wanted to be a business owner,” Kijowski-Bartholomew said. “So for her to do this is actually an exciting thing for us and our family.”

Newborn Avery Brodeur wears a TCBY frozen yogurt onesie on Thursday June 6, 2024 in Shorewood.

For now, Brodeur isn’t changing anything at TCBY Shorewood – except maybe a few new products to “give it a little spruce-up,” she said, “since there is a new owner in town.”