Yogurt yummies

11-19-08 SPM Yogurt
Published On:
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Printer-friendly version

A sweet, healthy trend has made its way to ASU. Several small shops serving frozen yogurt, sometimes referred to as “fro-yo,” are opening right on Sun Devil stomping grounds.

The stores typically sell several flavors of frozen yogurt that are complimented with an array of toppings, from fresh fruit to cereal and candy.

Less than one mile from campus, at least five of these frozen yogurt stores have either recently opened or are coming soon.

Bliss on Mill Avenue, Yogurtini on University Drive and Rural Road, and Chill on Apache Boulevard have already opened. By the end of this year, two Mojo Yogurt stores (one at the Tempe Marketplace and one on Mill Avenue) will be open, and In Yogurt on Mill Avenue is coming soon.

Although frozen yogurt has been popular in the past, part of this new trend includes hip new settings for customers to hang out in. It is also characterized by more variety of flavors and toppings for frozen yogurt, including more tart flavors.

Yun Choi, owner of the recently opened Bliss on Mill Avenue, says that this non-fat frozen yogurt concept isn’t new, it came from overseas.

“It started with a company in South Korea. Pinkberry discovered it and brought it to Los Angeles,” Choi says.

Although Choi would not specify which South Korean company, Red Mango is a South Korean company that began in 2002 and according to their Web site “is recognized as the pioneer of the tart variety of nonfat yogurt that has become wildly popular in the United States.”

Choi says yogurt shops with this concept have been around in California for three years and are now barely making their way to Arizona.

Gil Schmitt, owner of the Coldstone Creamery on Mill Avenue and the Memorial Union, says he has noticed the trend too.

“It’s interesting, [the trend] grew really fast,” Schmitt says, who has been with Cold Stone Creamery for 13 years.

“We’ve found over the years that yogurt comes and goes, but full-flavored ice cream always stays,” Schmitt says.

Regardless, Coldstone began selling their own tart frozen yogurt about a month ago at the Mill Avenue location and plans to have a soft-serve frozen yogurt machine at the Memorial Union Coldstone next spring.

Theater junior Stephen Gardner says the new yogurt shops are good places to meet with friends. Gardner has visited both Bliss and Yogurtini and says they are in good locations.

“I wanted to meet up with a friend. It’s my second time here, but it’s definitely not my last,” Gardner says on a Thursday night at Yogurtini.

He says theater kids are in that area a lot and so it would be convenient for them to hang out there.

Another reason students may like the new yogurt places is because the dessert is considered healthier than ice cream.

“It’s viable because a lot of college kids want no-fat,” Schmitt says.

Aside from frozen yogurt being non-fat and low in calories, yogurt has many nutrients and live active cultures which have many health benefits, including aiding digestion.

Nursing junior Beth Bryant agrees, saying, “it’s a healthy alternative.” And, furthermore, Bryant says, “it just tastes good.”

Frozen yogurt as a commodity was popularized by chains stores like Golden Spoon and TCBY that opened in the early ’80s. They have been successfully selling frozen yogurt ever since. The difference is many of the newer stores are inspired by Pinkberry and Red Mango as far as tart flavors, toppings, and a new hip setting.

Many business owners and entrepreneurs are trying to tap into the trend by featuring a similar concept but with a different business approach. Some are focusing on the quality of their products, customer service, or atmosphere. Some are focusing on all three.

Featured below is more information about each of the new yogurt stores near ASU:

Open: February 2008
Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. -8 p.m.
Prices: starts at $2.59 with a small and toppings start at 95 cents.
Location: Dorsey Lane and Apache Boulevard

One of the first to arrive on the scene and former SPM hotspot, Chill, a privately owned dessert shop, offers four flavors of frozen yogurt. They offer six fruit toppings, and fifteen dry toppings including cereals, chocolate chips, etc. Chill also offers 18 flavors of gelato.

Open date: November 3, 2008
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. everyday
Prices: Once customers fill a bowl of frozen yogurt and add their selected toppings, the bowl is weighed and the cost is based off its weight. Customers pay 39 cents an ounce for their creation.
Location: In the Cornerstone Plaza off of University and Rural

Yogurtini is self-serve frozen yogurt shop where customers can choose from ten daily flavors that rotate from a more extensive list of flavors like peanut butter, cheesecake, and green tea. Yogurtini also offers non-dairy, no-sugar-added, vegan and gluten-free yogurts.

Owned by two Tempe sisters, Natasha and recent-ASU graduate Chelsey Nelson. The two say because they are from the area and received a lot of input from their local family and friends in creating their business, this is part of what sets their store apart. They say that the store is catered to the feedback they’ve gotten of what people want as far as selection, atmosphere, etc.

“We really wanted to bring a cool, fun new concept to the Arizona State area,” owner Natasha Nelson says.

There are 50 toppings to choose from, including cereals, granola, candy, fruit and even some specialty items such as jalenpeños, Sriracha hot sauce and espresso beans.

The two wanted to bring Tempe’s first self-serve frozen yogurt bar. They eventually plan on opening four other stores across the valley.

Open date: September 20, 2008
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.- 10 p.m.
Friday 11 a.m. -10:30 p.m.
Saturday 1 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Closed Sundays
Prices: Prices range from $2.25 for a small yogurt with no topping to $5.75 for a large with three toppings.
Location: beneath the Bamboo Club at the Brickyard on Mill Avenue www.myultimatebliss.com.

This privately owned chain is based in California and is branching out to Washington and Arizona.

Bliss features three flavors of frozen yogurt: original, pia colada and pomegranate and 18 toppings including fruits and cereal. Choi says the yogurt is all natural and non-fat.

Choi says they are not trying to compete with any of the other shops because they have a great product at a lower price than many other places out there.

Choi says that one of their biggest focuses is customer service and building a customer base.

“We rather make a little less and have really loyal customers. We really try to care of our customers,” Choi says.

Bliss also has a loyalty program with a punch card system in which customers can receive a free yogurt after purchasing ten. Bliss keeps track of how many yogurts a customer has purchased through their computer system. Bliss also has gift cards available for the holidays.

Mojo Yogurt:
Open date: end of November for Tempe Marketplace location
mid-December for Mill Avenue location
Price: The same as Yogurtini, once customers fill a bowl of frozen yogurt and add their selected toppings, the bowl is weighed and the cost is based off its weight. Customers pay 39 cents an ounce for their creation.
Locations: Tempe Marketplace, Mill Avenue

Headquartered in Newport Beach, this new corporate chain currently has only one store opened in San Juan Capistrano and eventually plans to have 11 additional stores opened by 2009.

Mojo Yogurt will be a self-serve restaurant offering 14 flavors with clever names like Mango Tango, White Boy Vanilla and PB & Yo. Toppings include organic season fruits as well as exotic dry toppings like chocolate imported from England.

According to an e-mail by Hitesh Patel, who is currently undertaking the marketing for Mojo Yogurt, the store is “California cool meets modern pop art in Mojo Yogurt stores — uniting hip frozen yogurt culture with an unpretentious, left-coast style.”

Patel also says that the atmosphere will have a lot of energy and their product is a little more expensive because they provide the best quality.

The 40 toppings to choose from include organic seasonal fruit and exotic dry topping such as imported chocolates from England, almonds, cheesecake and more.

“A fun experience is what we are trying to create,” Patel says.

InYogurt, will also be coming to Mill Avenue soon, although there was not any readily available information for it.

Reach the reporter at nicole.ethier@asu.edu.