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New yogurt concept cools region

By   /   Friday, July 11th, 2008  /   Comments Off on New yogurt concept cools region

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Frozen yogurt is making a comeback.
But it’s not like some may remember. Enthusiasts dub it “froyo,” and the taste has changed too. No longer just a lower fat version of ice cream, the new frozen yogurt has the same soft-serve consistency, but actually tastes a little tart. It’s more like real yogurt: frozen.

And people like it. At least three new stores have opened on the Central Coast in the last year and another is on its way.

On Ventura’s Main Street, a yogurt shop with the tart flavor concept is getting ready to open. Called Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt, the store will use the licensed trade name of Santa Fe Springs-based YoFlavor, a division of Well Spring. The company provides soft serve machines and products and expects to expand from its four retail locations to 30 independently owned stores by August.

YoFlavor Account Executive Robert Zaldana said a well-positioned store could total as much as $450,000 in revenue a year. He said Tutti Frutti’s Balboa Island store is achieving about $1,200 gross sales a day.

Lillian Jung, a Los Angeles resident, said she opened Berrilicious in Isla Vista in September 2007 after witnessing the growing frozen yogurt trend in Southern California. Mimi Choi, who owns Rockin’ Yogurt on State Street in Santa Barbara with her daughter Christine, opened her shop in the same month.

Berrilicious offers plain tart or raspberry-flavored yogurt with a selection of 18 fresh fruit or dry toppings. Rockin’ Yogurt’s flavors include mango, strawberry, green tea and plain tart, also with a choice of fresh and dry toppings.

“Everything about it is healthy and the taste is so unique,” Jung said. Choi said she thinks the yogurt offers customers a non-fat, low-calorie dessert that is less “heavy” than many other snack options.

Although Jung and Choi did not disclose sales figures, Jung said business had been growing at the Isla Vista location until students left for the summer but Choi said the store is getting busier every month.

Jung said she drew her inspiration to open Berrilicious from a popular string of stores in the Los Angeles area called Pinkberry, a franchised yogurt chain with 59 locations in New York and California.

“Actually people who have never heard of Pinkberry are kind of thrown off because they never tasted it before and some like it right off the bat,” Jung said. “It’s very different from vanilla, which everyone is used to.”

Pinkberry opened a tri-county location in Westlake Village in July 2007, charging $2.50 for a small, original flavor yogurt and $4.95 for its most popular item, the medium, original flavor with three toppings.

A spokesperson for the chain said although frozen yogurt is not a new concept, Pinkberry has created a new and unique experience for its customers, with music playing, bright colors and a fun atmosphere.

Although Pinkberry has not announced any specific plans to open additional Central Coast locations, the company’s spokesperson is confident the concept will continue to succeed and grow.

“Generally, Pinkberry plans to expand in all markets,” she said. “I couldn’t say specifically where the next store will be but I presume you’ll probably see more of them all over Southern California as well as other regions.”

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