16 Handles’ founder Solomon Choi dies at 44

Choi, who was well known as a restaurant investor and advisor, sold the self-serve frozen yogurt concept in 2022.
Solomon Choi
16 Handles' founder Solomon Choi, 44, died Friday. | Photo courtesy of the Choi family

Solomon Choi, who founded the 16 Handles frozen yogurt concept in 2008, died on Friday. He was 44. No cause of death was listed in his obituary.

Choi sold the 30-unit self-serve frozen yogurt chain in 2022 to Neil Hershman, the concept’s largest franchisee.

“We are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of 16 Handles’ founder and former CEO Solomon Choi,” Hershman said in a statement. “He was a visionary who came to New York City in his 20s and founded this iconic frozen dessert brand. 16 Handles is where I got my personal start in franchising and I owe so much to Solomon for the opportunities, education, mentorship and friendship he provided me throughout the years.”

Choi lived in Manhasset, New York, at the time of his death.

He met his wife, Hannah Chang-Choi, in 2015, thanks to an introduction from her sister, at a 16 Handles on New York’s Upper West Side, according to his obituary. The couple were engaged and married within six months of meeting. They have two children, a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old.

Choi, a well-known figure in the restaurant industry as an investor and an advisor, founded Jabba Brands in 2019 to “advise, invest and operate companies that improve the way people eat, drink and live harmoniously,” according to his obituary.

He was scheduled to appear on a panel Tuesday about the future of digital transformation in the limited-service segment, according to his LinkedIn.

He was also a member of the Hustle Fund’s Angel Squad, which provides venture capital to early-stage startups.

In addition to 16 Handles, Choi also founded and sold Greeno Products, a supplier of disposable foodservice products.

“Solomon’s legacy will live on forever through the memories of those who had the opportunity to know him and the impact that he had on countless lives,” his obituary noted. “Solomon will be remembered for his relentless optimism, his discipline and fearlessness, and his Michael Jackson dance moves. Most importantly, he was committed to loving his wife and children to the best of his ability and will be remembered as the world’s best husband and daddy.”

He was born on April 20, 1980, in Seoul, South Korea, and received a degree in business administration from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business in 2002.

“Part of the mission statement for 16 Handles is to ‘create moments of happiness,’ and Solomon truly embodied this in his personal and professional life, always sporting a big smile and optimistic outlook,” Hershman said. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends and all those who loved him and worked with him during this incredibly difficult time.”

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