Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fro-yo in Southwest Virginia by Guest Blogger Helene K.

Fro-yo girl here. Much as I'd like to visit every fro-yo shop in the planet, the reality is that I'm geographically limited. However, fro-yo fans are just about everywhere. I'm very pleased to have guest blogger and friend, Helene K. She's been gracious enough to report on the fro-yo scene in southwest Virginia. Thank you, Helene.

Be sure to visit Helene's blog and official website, helenekwong.com and follow her on Twitter, @hkwong

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

And here's Helene's post:

Fro-yo Girl’s Travel Scout here! In a little corner of southwest Virginia, the New River Valley has two fro-yo shops: BTO Self-Serve Yogurt and Yogi Factory. Both shops are located near universities: BTO is near Radford University and Yogi Factory is near Virginia Tech (hence the popular music playing in both stores caters to the younger crowd). Both shops do loyalty cards (plus!) and both shops love tart fro-yo (another plus).

But then, they differ in these ways: BTO is a self-service shop with 16 flavors (about ten of them rotated weekly) and a smorgasbord of toppings available. In their toppings selection, they have mashed cake slices, which I have never seen as a topping option in San Francisco or New York. Surprisingly, they also have mochi on hand, despite the low Asian population of the area. It costs $0.39 per ounce of fro-yo/toppings. BTO is actually part of a regional chain, with other locations in Arizona, Ohio and Colorado.

On the other end of the fro-yo spectrum, Yogi Factory is a local, full-service shop with well-trained employees who can swirl up a storm with the fro-yo. They have two original flavors, plain tart & chocolate, along with nine fruit-infused flavors, e.g., pomegranate. Toppings aren’t as plentiful and, on my second visit, there wasn’t any mochi available (considering Blacksburg has a larger population of Asians, I found this very strange). A small cup of fro-yo here (any flavor) is $3.29, and you can choose up to three toppings for an additional $0.99.

The unique thing about Yogi Factory is that they also sell 16 oz. fro-yo smoothies in five fruit combinations. You can also create your own fruit combination (choose two fruits) for the same price of $4.49.

So far, my favorite flavors from BTO are lychee, nutella, and funfetti (think about cake batter ice cream). Yogi Factory’s plain tart and pomegranate-infused are pretty good, too.

Every time I’ve been to BTO, it is buzzing with customers. BTO even made an appearance at our third annual Chili Festival with a portable fro-yo machine. Nothing like fro-yo to cool me down after some chili tasting. To me, BTO seems like a great addition to my hometown and has definitely been trying hard to get out there in the community. Yogi Factory seems to hang back a little, but they have been in the Blacksburg area since 2009, so they must be doing pretty well, too.

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