When Michael Pettenato opened Cloud 9 Frozen Yogurt & Cupcakes with his mother, Lorraine Evans and brother, TJ Pettenato, last July, he was looking for a refreshing change of pace. After owning and operating a successful mortgage company for five years, the economic downturn and subsequent recession forced the family to re-evaluate their game plan.
“With the financial industry the way it became, it was very challenging for too little return,” Pettenato said, adding that the difficulties facing the industry seemed “almost insurmountable.”
“We said forget it, let’s do something fun for a change,” and the idea for Cloud 9 was born.
Pettenato and his family decided to utilize the gourmet food industry background he acquired while working in upscale New York City restaurants - like Iron Chef Mario Battali’s Babbo - to bring top quality, gourmet creations to Roswell. The family’s goal is to create a high-end, gourmet experience using fresh ingredients and flavors influenced by the New York fine dining scene.
The store opened in July 2010 in the SuperTarget Shopping Center at 1195 Woodstock Road and quickly won a small but dedicated following in the Roswell community. Then, after receiving a surprise phone call in December, this small family-owned and operated business has begun to dream bigger than they ever imagined.
Last December, Pettenato received what he assumed was a marketing survey call from the folks at Google. After answering questions based on some recent Google AdWords advertising he had used, Pettenato received a second call from an executive at Google UK asking for a site visit and requesting permission to bring along a few video cameras to record the visit.
Imagine the family’s surprise when, a few days later, 15 Google employees descended upon the bakery and bestowed upon them a multitude of gifts including brand new laptops, cellphones with prepaid minutes, a year of CPA services, green consulting and fast internet service. But the grand finale really took the cake - $100,000 worth of advertising.
“The world slowed down, I started bawling,” said Pettenato. “I truly felt like I was on Oprah or Extreme Home Makeover.”
To celebrate, the reps from Google bought Cloud 9’s inventory for the day, enabling Pettenato and family to distribute free cupcakes all day long.
After a whirlwind trip to Google headquarters near San Francisco, Pettenato and family are focusing on the future of Cloud 9.
They recently added delivery services throughout the entire metro-Atlanta area and now accept orders online (www.cloud9roswell.com). Delivery services will soon be available throughout the state thanks to their collaboration with Google, who helped with packaging development and delivery logistics. Cloud 9 regularly partners with local schools, creates special events cupcakes for everything from the Girl Scouts to Race for the Cure and is the preferred provider of cupcakes for birthday parties held at the Chick-fil-A on Hwy 92 in Roswell.
“The Roswell clientele has really supported our store,” Pettenato said. “We’re so thankful we’re growing about as fast as we can handle. We are so lucky.”