Tanja Nonkovic-Toljusic is a registered nurse, mother of two little girls, a beautiful wife, an avid baker, accomplished businesswoman and my very dear friend. When Tanja first approached Sandy and I in the spring of 2012 to appeal to Shindico for help to find a space for her bakery, she brought along a sample of her wares for us to taste. The banana-chocolate cake we were privileged to sample that day three years ago remains one of my most flavourful, bakery experiences I’ve enjoyed to date.
Tanja is a baker yet this is a blog about Tanja as the co-owner of, soon to be, three Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt franchise locations in Winnipeg, which of course begs the question: How did Tanja evolve from baker extraordinaire to be the co-proprietor of two of the most successful Tutti Frutti franchises in Canada? The answer to that question is material for another blog, but I will say, Shindico and my daughter Brontë, were instrumental in that change of business ambition for Tanja.
My daughter Brontë Willitts travelled to Hawaii in March 2012 and when she returned she was excited about the “self-serve frozen yogurt” experience she enjoyed almost everyday while on Maui. Upon her return to Winnipeg she encouraged me to reach out to some of Canada’s national frozen yogurt franchisors to let them know how great Winnipeg is and how the city was overdue for their own self-serve “froyo” stores. When I made my inquiries, I found that several frozen yogurt franchises wished to locate in Winnipeg but were facing the challenge of finding qualified franchisees.
In business, I believe timing is everything. When Tanja’s bakery location fell through, Sandy and I had breakfast with her and her business partner and brother, Dr. Perica Nonkovi? from Grand Prairie, to discuss other business ideas and options. It was at this breakfast that Tanja and Perica’s interest was piqued with regard to the self-serve frozen yogurt concept. The next day, Tanja and Perica and I flew to Edmonton to test all the frozen yogurt brands that fine city had to offer (what a deliciously-filling day that was!). Tanja and Perica decided on the Tutti Frutti brand and signed the franchise agreement that day. These two do not dally in their decision-making.
Here we are three years later and Tanja and Perica have two of the finest quick-service-restaurant locations in the city: Polo Park and Grant Park Festival on Taylor, for their Tutti Frutti franchises. These two stores are consistently within the top five grossing Tutti Frutti locations in the country. This is not a coincidence. Tanja, with the help of her wonderful father Marko and beautiful mother Duska and, of course, her lovely husband Dario, runs clean, organized, efficient, inviting and playful froyo stores. Her exemplary management skills coupled with her selection of excellent locations in the city, has affected her great success in the Winnipeg marketplace.
Predictably, Tanja is reluctant to accept any praise for her hard work and accomplishments. In fact, when asked to what or to whom she owes her great success, she replied: “I wouldn’t be here without Sandy (Shindleman). He was always there for me when I had questions about the leasing process and assured me that I was making the right decisions in choosing the locations we chose. But really, it’s not just about helping me with my locations; Sandy is a warm-hearted, beautiful man who I feel blessed to call my friend. He has helped my brother and me more than I can say. I adore him.”
Tanja and Perica’s third Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt store is scheduled to open in Transcona in June 2015, followed by their fourth location in Bridgewater Town Centre in June 2016.
The Best in Class series is an ongoing feature on the Shindico Stream blog, featuring some of the amazing and talented business entrepreneurs that we have had the pleasure to work with at Shindico. Each is a leader in their respective fields; providing excellence in product and service delivery. Best in class retailers, restaurants and professional services thrive in great real estate and we are privileged to be able to offer some of the best locations in Manitoba.
Stephanie White Willitts, B.A., M.E.S.
Commercial Real Estate