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Vampire Penguin shaved snow sweet shop coming to south Fargo in 2023

The concept started in 2013 and has grown to 27 locations, mostly in the South, Southwest and along the Eastern Seaboard.

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A Vampire Penguin shaved snow shop is planned to open in 2023 in south Fargo.
Contributed / Vampire Penguin LLC
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FARGO — A Vampire Penguin shaved snow and desserts shop is coming to south Fargo and will be one of five new Vampire Penguin outlets planned to open around the nation in 2023, the company’s CEO told The Forum Saturday, Nov. 26.

A permit application to fit up a franchise of the sweet shop concept at 4600 17th Ave. S. was filed with the city inspections office Nov. 15.

The cost of the fit-up is estimated at $180,000.

The shop will be in the North Marketplace business center, just east of Home Depot. Tenants in that building include Bee Seen Gear and Hobby Hut. Border Bank is next door to the east.

The Fargo Vampire Penguin is run by a company named Ope It’s Cold, LLC, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office.

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The Fargo shop’s owners declined to comment at this time on their timeline for opening or other aspects of the operation.

However, Vampire Penguin co-founder and CEO Paolo San Luis shared some background on the restaurant concept in an email to The Forum. San Luis added that he and his brother Leo San Luis, “are very excited for VP Fargo to open up!”

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A permit to fit up a Vampire Penguin shaved snow dessert shop has been taken out for the North Marketplace building in south Fargo, pictured Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

Forum: How was the concept started and where did the first store open?

A: The concept started with me (Paolo San Luis) and my brother (Leo San Luis) back in 2013.

We grew up in the Philippines and always loved shaved ice. Over the years, we have experienced different cultural expressions of the dessert and when coming up with Vampire Penguin, we wanted to combine elements of what we liked in these variations. Particularly, the lightness and fluffiness of Hawaiian ice and the creaminess and flavor consistency of Taiwanese ice, and the presentation of Japanese and Korean ice. After months of testing, we opened up the first store in Sacramento, Calif. on Halloween 2013.

Forum: How did you settle on the name Vampire Penguin?

A: The name Vampire Penguin came from combining two words that fit our product: Penguin, because of ice and how penguins are usually associated with ice, and Vampire, because the product is something out of this world, like something that shouldn't exist, like a Vampire Penguin. Over time, we started coining the product shaved snow magic, describing it as light, fluffy, and creamy.

Forum: How many restaurants are there now? How many do you hope to see opened in the coming year?

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A: There are 27 operating locations with five stores opening in the coming year.

Forum: Most of the restaurants are in the South, Southwest and along the Eastern Seaboard. Are you making a push into the Midwest? 

A: We work with a licensing model and a lot of our expansion happens through word of mouth. For example, our Fargo partners tried Vampire Penguin in Florida and decided to reach out to us to see if they can expand VP in North Dakota. So it really is just about organically expanding through licensees that truly believe in the brand and product.

Forum: Are all of the restaurants franchised? Or is there a mix of corporate and franchised restaurants?

A: All stores are licensed. Corporate does not operate any more locations to focus on supplying and continuing to develop the story of the brand.

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Forum: How much money does someone need, approximately, to open a Vampire Penguin franchise shop?

A: The average cost to open up a fully operational location can range from $50,000 to $150,000.

Forum: Anything else you feel will help our region’s readers understand your restaurant's concept?

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A: We believe our website vampirepenguin.com and our social media pages on Instagram and Facebook explain a lot about the concept. (The website) contains pictures, menus, locations, the product, as well as the story of Vampire Penguin.

Related Topics: FARGORESTAURANTS AND BARS
Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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