Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Fro-yo Store Count

Fro-yo girl here. As promised last August, I am updating my chain store location count. I'm assuming that the information on the company website is fairly accurate and up to date. So let's see how things have changed since last August?

* Golden Spoon: 103 US locations last August, 113 this August
* Red Mango: 57 US locations last August, 70 locations this August, many self-serve locations coming soon (the coming soon ones weren't counted)
* Pinkberry: 56 US locations last August, 95 locations this August
* Yogurtland: 55 locations last August, 96 locations this August
* Cefiore: 31 US locations last August, 17 locations this August
* Yogen Fruz: 29 US locations last August, 40 US locations this August, hundreds of locations in other countries, many of these are express locations, located often in movie theaters
* Yogurberry: 24 US locations last August, unknown number this August. The site definitely is out of date. It lists Ventura and that location closed a long time ago. I know they're still around.
* Tutti Frutti: I started to count these but I can tell that they don’t distinguish between open and coming soon/not open stores on their website. It looks like there are around 100 open in the U.S.

I added a few more chains to the list:
* Menchie's: 47 locations this August
* Yolato: 42 locations this August, all but one is an express location
* Tuttimelon: 25 locations this August
* FreshBerry: 20 locations this August

Cefiore and Yogurberry have lost momentum but other chains continue to expand. Pinkberry is finally expanding in areas other than SoCal and NYC. It's interesting that Yogurtland and Pinkberry had nearly identical store counts last August and this August too.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Polar Ice Grand Opening Promotion

Fro-yo girl here. Polar Ice opened last month and they're having a grand opening promotion September 1st - 10th. During that period, fro-yo is 20% off of the regular price (35 cents an ounce). Choose from 12 flavors of self-serve fro-yo a day. They also have gelato, crepes, pearl tea and smoothies.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* POLAR ICE: 96 E. San Salvador St., San Jose, CA

Friday, August 27, 2010

Eat Real Festival: Ice Cream Night Report

Fro-yo girl here. I returned to Ice Cream Friday at the Eat Real Festival looking for fro-yo. Yes, I know it's called Ice Cream Friday, but I thought I might run into fro-yo, yogurt gelato, or yogurt ice cream. I went earlier this time to avoid the crowds. Some of the same vendors returned this year and there were some new faces...but no fro-yo. I knew I would at least get some good ice cream because my favorite ice cream makers were there - Tara's Organic Ice Cream.

Ice cream/sorbet vendors:
* Ici Ice Cream: offered six flavors of ice cream (scoops) and ice cream sandwiches, tried a sour cherry ice cream that was nice but not sour at all, it was sweet and creamy with fresh cherry bits, sour cherry fro-yo is much better
* Scream Sorbet: interesting flavors like almond pink peppercorn and blackberry chocolate
* Noci gelato
* Gelateria Naia
* Laloo's: goat milk ice cream, I tried it last year, the goat milk flavor takes getting used to
* Straus: ice cream only
* Pepito's: Mexican ice cream, snow cones, paletas, saw tequila ice cream

* Tara's Organic: my favorite ice cream place but they didn't bring their best flavors, the 2 oz cup looks like a sample, plum ginger ice cream was intensely ginger, black sesame ice cream wasn't as strong as black sesame gelato but I really enjoyed the fresh sweet flavor of the black sesame, the ice cream cup was a bit melted and too soft though

* Smitten Ice Cream: I think it had the longest line but each order is made in front of you, so it takes longer to get your ice cream, also the contraption that they use probably caught people's attention, today they had one flavor, salted caramel with almond brittle topping ($2). It was a winner - the ice cream has a nice firm, creamy, smooth texture and the flavor had a hint of saltiness with this cinnamony-burnt sugar flavor that combined with the crunchy almond brittle, reminded me of Almond Roca (minus the chocolate, in ice cream form). I thought the process was just novelty but now I'm a fan and am looking forward to their Hayes Valley opening (mid-October). I like how they make their own gourmet toppings. It reminded me of fro-yo only without the yogurt flavor if that makes any sense. I wonder if they can make fro-yo with liquid nitrogen?

Of course I was thinking of fro-yo while eating ice cream.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Future Fro-yo Shop Picture: Yoppi Westfield SF

Fro-yo girl here. This is a not very newsworthy update of Yoppi Yogurt in Westfield. I stopped by yesterday to see if anything had changed. There are no signs that indicate when it will open (it used to say July 2010) and I wasn't able to peek inside. The outside is cute though (with the little Yoppi characters). If anyone has any info, let me know.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* YOPPI YOGURT: 845 Market St. #277, San Francisco, CA

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Officially Closed and Part of the Fro-yo Graveyard: Icebee Ocean Avenue, SF

Fro-yo girl here. Icebee has been closed for many months (they were open from October 2009 - January 2010 and they've been closed ever since), but they used to have a sign in the window, saying that they were closed temporarily (seasonal closure). The same thing happened with the Yogurt Bar location on Mission St. The sign said they were closed for the season and then they never reopened.

The fro-yo machines are gone, though you can still see the Icebee signs and furniture inside the shop. There's a new sign on the door. Kasumi is moving in (a restaurant).

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* ICEBEE: 2608 Ocean Ave., San Francisco, CA


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Future Tri-Valley Fro-yo Shop Pictures: Tutti Frutti, Pinkberry

Fro-yo girl here. New photos to share...first up, Pinkberry San Ramon. On the Pinkberry website, an opening/swirling date of August 2010 is listed but I don't think it will happen judging from the current state. The floors and walls still need work. The back wall has been painted light blue, like a typical Pinkberry and they've been working on the toppings bar. There are no Pinkberry signs. No sign of the fro-yo machines.

Next, it's off to Dublin where Tutti Frutti is taking over a large space by the Regal movie theaters. No sign of a fro-yo machine wall. There's still much work to be done but the official exterior sign is up.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* PINKBERRY SAN RAMON: 3104 Crow Canyon Place 2, San Ramon, CA
* TUTTI FRUTTI: 4930 Dublin Blvd, Suite 720, Dublin, CA

Sunday, August 15, 2010

New Pricing at Blush Dublin

Fro-yo girl here. I just returned from the Blush Dublin new pricing launch party. Prices have been simplified. Gone is the higher pricing for flavored fro-yo (yay!) All fro-yo flavors are now the same price. The current flavor lineup is Original Tart, Strawberry Kiwi, Blush and Cookies N' Cream. Delicious and organic too!

The new pricing scheme: Small ($3)/ Medium ($4)/ Large ($5). Add on toppings (your choice of up to 4) and the fro-yo + toppings price is Small ($4)/ Medium ($5.50)/ Large ($6.75)

To celebrate the new pricing, they had face painting (I noticed one option was the Blush cherry logo, so cute) and an amazing balloon artist, Perry the Magician. He can make balloon animals but also draws on faces and makes them into hats and bracelets. That big sculpture is a balloon version of fro-yo with a cherry on top!

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* BLUSH DUBLIN: 4640-A Tassajara Road, Dublin, CA 94568

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fro-yo Swirling Skills

Fro-yo girl here. The results are in. I asked you, the readers, about your fro-yo swirling skills, and the majority of you (59%) are fro-yo swirling masters. I fall in the "I get by" category, along with 26% of you. Only 6% of you say that you need lessons and 8% have never had to swirl their own fro-yo. I've seen some hideously ugly swirling from most people, so the results show that my readers are people who, for the most part, are really into fro-yo (and possibly work in the fro-yo business) and/or naturally gifted.

I've actually had fro-yo swirling lessons but I was very nervous at the time and I think my swirling tends to be too tense and controlled. The lesson involved tilting the cup a bit and letting the wrist do much of the work. The end result should be uniform swirls that end in a peak that stands up (I've included a picture that I think shows great swirling technique). Other factors influence the ease of swirling too. Sometimes it's too soft or too stiff. Sometimes it comes out the machine too quickly.

I think I'm getting better but I can't stop thinking that I'd prefer to have someone swirl my fro-yo fro me as I swirl my own.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Miam.Miam Lounge: Innovative New Dessert Shop in Rockridge

Fro-yo girl here. What do you get when an innovative, design-focused housewares company wants to open fro-yo shop? You can check out the result at Miam.Miam Lounge in Oakland. It's a fresh take on the fro-yo shop concept. The shop design has a similar look and feel (modern and playful) to their line of mugs, plates, tea pots, canisters, bowls, etc.

The place is like a futuristic lounge meets product showroom. What's particularly charming about their fro-yo foray is that you can now see their products in use - from the bowls that hold toppings to the double walled glass containers that hold soy milk and other liquids you can add to your Blue Bottle Coffee. Take your time to admire the shelving, the lighting, and the fro-yo machines.

The fro-yo, gelato and coffee (and in the future, crepes) are all gourmet, fresh and a break from the ordinary. Fro-yo flavors like kumquat, lychee, and blood orange are light, refreshing and full-flavored. I'm excited about their frozen soy yogurt. While many of their flavors are tart, they also have some interesting sweet flavors like horchata. Most flavors are non-fat. It seems like they don't have the usual chocolate or vanilla fro-yo, a bold move. The toppings bar features some familiar and unfamiliar toppings. My favorite topping is the fresh mochi.

Another fun aspect is their flat rate pricing - you pay by the cup size. Pile on as much as you can fit in a cup.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.

* miam.miam lounge: 5856 College Ave., Oakland, CA, 94518

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Congratulations Tuttimelon Hong Kong!

Fro-yo girl here. Tuttimelon's first shop in Hong Kong is now OPEN. It's the first self-serve fro-yo place in Hong Kong and with an opening date of 8/8 plus the power of Tuttimelon, I know it will be a huge success.

It's at The ONE shopping mall. I've never been there but it sounds incredible (here's a short description from the Tuttimelon website: "Right at the centre of Tsim Sha Tsui along the famed Nathan Road, magic is happening. The ONE, the latest landmark, is about to reveal a one-stop world of wonders to the anticipating crowds, ready to transform the district, reshape the shopping and lifestyle landscape in Hong Kong in 2010. From architecture to interior design; from comprehensive retail mix to attentive concierge services, The ONE gathers everything desirable to answer every wish, every aspiration. The magical touch begins right here." Sounds like a perfect place for Tuttimelon!

According Chinese culture, the number 8 is the luckiest number and eighty-eight symbolizes fortune and good luck. I also learned that 88 means bye bye in SMS/chat (since it sounds like bye bye in Mandarin).

Check out Tuttimelon Hong Kong on Facebook for pictures of the opening day and follow them on Twitter.

Tuttimelon - The One
Shop L308 - The One
100 Nathan Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cherry on Top Frozen Yogurt, the Inside Swirl

Fro-yo girl here. I recently had the chance to talk to Cherry On Top HQ. I wanted to learn more about this self-serve frozen yogurt chain that I hadn't visited. They see themselves as a shop that appeals to fro-yo lovers of all ages. For example, their Margarita Sorbet was created with the adult palate in mind. And they have Pina Colada fro-yo. And even Red Bean fro-yo! Most kids would be drawn to their Peanut Butter, Cake Batter and Cookies N' Cream flavors.

To differentiate themselves, they focus on product quality and creating an atmosphere that's modern, attractive, and good for hanging out/socializing. Some locations have more seating than other for-yo shops. They like keeping things simple - the concept hasn't changed much since the beginning as they'd like to stay true to their core values. They're still expanding but want to choose locations carefully to ensure the success of their franchisees. Expanding to the Bay Area is definitely something they're considering.

An exciting development for them is their foray into co-branding with Scooter's Coffeehouse. Scooter's Coffeehouse roasts its own beans and has been voted Best of Omaha for the last nine years. The first Cherry On Top/Scooter's Coffeehouse location will open in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Cherry on Top FAQs:
* First location: 3910 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA, opened August 2007
* 25 locations, mostly in SoCal, mostly owned by franchisees. First international location opened in Taiwan.
* Each store is independently owned and operated
* Typically 39 cents an ounce but varies
* Customer favorite flavors: Blueberry tart

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Admiring the Yogurtland Posters

Fro-yo girl. Is it just me or do other people think that Yogurtland has the cutest "new fro-yo flavor" posters? The posters always make me excited to try their new flavors. The big cup of fro-yo with the perfect swirl catches my eye and they're just well-designed. Yogurtland is very good about introducing new flavors about once a month, so I'm (1) always wondering what they'll think of next, (2) ready to return to the shop on a regular basis to check out the new flavor(s).

I wonder what happens to the posters once they're taken down. Do they go back to corporate HQ? I hope they are not destroyed.

You know you love me. X0 X0, fro-yo girl.