John and Lori Heitz, owners of the Red Pepper and Red Pepperoni restaurants, talk about their latest downtown Madison venture, a frozen yogurt shop called the Red Peppermint.
John and Lori Heitz, owners of the Red Pepper and Red Pepperoni restaurants, talk about their latest downtown Madison venture, a frozen yogurt shop called the Red Peppermint.
Tasting dozens of different frozen yogurts might not sound like work, but John and Lori Heitz see it that way.

Together the restaurateurs researched frozen yogurt for two years before opening their new restaurant in downtown Madison. It's the third restaurant they own.

The Heitz's went to different frozen yogurt stores, contacted various companies, went to tradeshows and waited for the right location to open before taking the dive.

John Heitz said the secret of their success is making sure they put the work in.

"Once we realized it's not fun to run a restaurant, it's not fun, it's work. That's when we were able to make things work," he said.

"You've got to marry into it. You have to realize that's what you are. I don't care if you're a plumber or a lawyer or a restaurateur, once you realize that's who you are, it makes it easier to do that work."

The Heitzes' opened the Red Peppermint on Black Friday. They said business has been good so far, even though there's snow on the ground.

"At first we thought we were going to be busy, just because it's the new thing," John Heitz said.

They've stuck with their naming theme - they also own the Red Pepper and the Red Pepperoni - because, so far, it has worked they said.

"People have commented that as soon as they saw the sign that said The Red Peppermint, they knew it was us," Lori Heitz said.

"We've had luck with it before," John Heitz said. "We think it's established."

The couple said they want to fill a need when they open a new location, but the restaurants they open are ones they want to go to.

"We like living in Madison. We've found things that we think Madison needs that we want too," John Heitz said.

"We felt there were needs for different restaurants and we tried to fill that," Lori Heitz said.

Opening in the winter has also given the owners a chance to work out the kinks of operating a new business before the start of the frozen treat season.

"There's so many different things to learn, as far as the machines go and everything and just different pitfalls of teaching new employees a new thing, or just learning a new restaurant," John Heitz said.

Currently the new frozen yogurt shop offers 15 flavors that they say will change regularly. There is also room to install two more frozen yogurt machines, which they plan to do eventually.