Yogurt Yum- Thornton, Colorado

Yogurt Yum, Thornton, Colorado

Yogurt Yum! Thornton, Colorado

The frozen yogurt self-serve boom is still in full swing and a new self-serve shop has just opened up in my neighborhood!  Yogurt Yum has been open for business for about a month in the Mission Trace Shopping Plaza in Thornton, Colorado.  Yogurt Yum is single location that is privately and locally owned and operated.  This is a great location to open a frozen yogurt shop.  It is surrounded by banks, retail stores, grocery stores and restaurants.  There are also dance studios and other children activity centers only doors away. 

Yogurt Yum does not boast much square footage, but I was actually shocked at how well they utilized their space.  There was ample seating with two high-top tables for two at the front of the store and a row of cushioned booth seating along the far right wall accompanied by several smaller tables and chairs.  Yogurt Yum even provided a colorful kids’ picnic table for the youngest of the fro-yo desserters. There was a flat screen tucked away on the dining wall and candy dispensers mounted on the opposite wall above the toppings bar.  The décor, right down to colors on the walls, gave this spot an old fashioned soda shop appeal. 

Aside from the great design and layout, Yogurt Yum served me, hands down, the best cup of frozen yogurt that I have had to date.  I chose New York Style Cheesecake topped with graham cracker and Oreo cookie crumbles and M&Ms.  Great flavor to begin with, but I cannot stress how unbelievably creamy and smooth the frozen yogurt was.  It kept its consistency even down to the ends of the cup, where most often you’re left with a watery, separated version of frozen yogurt. Utter perfection!  The cashier, Zach, was most helpful and knowledgeable about Yogurt Yum and the frozen yogurt biz in general.  He promptly greeted every store patron, myself included, and briefly explained the self-serve procedure.  Any time I dine-out, no matter if my meal or treat was exactly what I expected, great service can make or break the whole experience.  I always find it refreshing when someone in the service industry appears excited about where they work and what they do.  Zach also informed me that  ½ of my order’s total would be donated to a local youth sports program, North Suburban Thunder’s spirit fundraiser.  There was also a spokeswoman from the organization standing-by at Yogurt Yum to help answer questions for anyone interested in learning more about the local league.  The price per ounce at Yogurt Yum is $0.39.  This is lower than most prices I’ve seen from competitors and Yogurt Yum definitely offered a superior cup of frozen yogurt at a great price!

Vote for New Flavors!

I give my whole Yogurt Yum experience a five out five stars rating.  They did not offer as many toppings as I would have liked to have seen at a frozen yogurt shop, and not nearly the variety of chocolate or fresh fruits, but the essentials were stocked, and again, they are limited on actual store space.  They did offer a good selection of syrup toppings, though, and the store was spotlessly clean and well kept.  I am partial to Yogurt Yum, not only because it sits in my neighborhood, but also because, in all facets, it is a truly local business.

Gunbarrel Aspen Leaf, Boulder, CO

Aspen Leaf Gunbarrel, Colorado

Aspen Leaf, Gunbarrel, Colorado

Aspen Leaf is a franchise and wholly owned subsidiary of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factoy, Inc.  Having been a longtime fan of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory treats, I have high hopes for their brand of frozen yogurt.  I visited the Aspen Leaf frozen yogurt location in Gunbarrel, Colorado in search of a sweetly unique flavor of fro-yo and toppings to satisfy my dessert craving.  After sampling all of their flavors, I decided on a cup of “Cake Batter”.  It seems that this flavor must be popular among the Aspen Leaf patrons as the texture and consistency was in sync with what I desire from frozen yogurt. I’ve learned that those less popular flavors tend to lack in this department with, what I can only describe as a sheet of ice blanketing that desired smoothness. This Aspen Leaf location was on its “p”s and “q”s creating a clean, friendly, energizing and delightful experience for fro-yo goers. Even the clerk was excited to be at Aspen Leaf, and even more so, about the frozen yogurt and toppings!

Froyo Girl

Can't Beat Great Service! Thanks Fro-yo Girl!

This Aspen Leaf features a modern, yet cozy, bright yellow couch as its main focal point and an array of brightly colored tabletops and cushioned chairs inviting customers to “dine-in” with their tasty treats.  Even with temperatures in the low 30s and 40s here in Colorado, there was still a good handful of people stopping in to enjoy a cold cup of frozen yogurt.

Aspen Leaf has a fantastic selection of toppings to complement their dozen or so different fro-yo flavors.  They also display their toppings behind finger-print free glass in pristine stainless steel containers.  There was no slop spills or topping crumb remnants out of place on the toppings bar, and each container was filled to the brim, making it even easier to get that perfect heap of chocolate chips or fresh fruit to add to your cup of frozen yogurt.

the couch

Bright Colors Makes Things Fun!

I topped my “Cake Batter” with chocolate chips and Butterfinger crumbles. Mmmmm.  It was like eating a slice of kid’s birthday cake and chocolate candy delights all-in-one.  Super-duper delicious!  I give my fro-yo a 5 out of 5 star rating.  The toppings bar also gets 5 out of 5 stars.  Overall, though, I give this Aspen Leaf location a 4 out of 5 star review.

Toppings Filled to the Top!

This is a great location for Aspen Leaf, located right in the heart of a slew of major businesses and companies and there are no fro-yo or desert competitors in the area. They also have an abundance of square footage.  I feel that for the area and customer-base, they could offer more entertainment for their consumers such as a flat screen, fire-place, music or something to create an even more cozy and inviting environment for the business lunchers and after-schoolers who are not looking to take their fro-yo to go.   The going price per ounce here is at $0.45.  This is relatively competitive with other fro-yo spots around town; but, Aspen Leaf is the only self serve frozen yogurt stop that offers the abundance of gourmet Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory candy and chocolate toppings.

 

Red Mango, Orchard Town Center

Red Mango @ Orchard Town Center, Westminster, Colorado

Today, I visited the Red Mango Frozen Yogurt self-serve shop at the Orchard Town Center in Westminster, Colorado.  The franchise is ranked #1 by Zagat.  The Red Mango features an eclectic menu of “all natural frozen yogurt, fresh fruit smoothies, probiotic beverages, artisan hot chocolate and fruit and yogurt parfaits”.  Toppings include everything from cereal and what appeared to be Cinnamon Toast Crunch, nut varieties, chocolate candies, even chocolate malt balls, and an array of fresh fruits. I give their toppings selection a 5 star rating out of 5.  They had everything that you could possibly think to put on a frozen yogurt cup or to make the perfect parfait.

I enjoyed a medium “Irish Cream” fro-yo cup topped with fresh blueberries, kiwi and shaves of almond.  This treat was overall superbly delicious, and the fruit was very fresh.  The flavor “Irish Cream” was absolutely divine.  To my surprise, it worked well with the fruit combination, too. I thought I was making a gamble. The consistency and texture of the frozen yogurt, though, seemed to be more “pasty” than desired in that it was lacking a certain smoothness that I expect from frozen yogurt.  But again, the eating experience overall was still very satisfying and yummy.

"Irish Cream" with Fresh Blueberries, Kiwi & Shaves of Almond

"Irish Cream" with Fresh Blueberries, Kiwi & Shaves of Almond

My visit in whole was as pleasurable as to be expected from any frozen yogurt shop.  I would give this particular location of Red Mango an overall 3 star rating out of 5.  It could have been cleaner.  The table-tops were tidy and wiped clean; however, there was a good amount of napkin, spoon and cup debris about the floors.  Also, the toppings bar was covered with syrup slops and various topping remnants.  I have worked in this sort of industry before and I find this sort of mess unacceptable, especially when the store traffic is at a lull and there is ample time available to tidy-up. The frozen yogurt could have had a little bit smoother consistency, but, none-the-less delicious and I would definitely go back for more!

Update on Frozen Yogurt Machines – service, and choosing the right soft serve machine

Choosing the right soft-serve machine is tricky.  Here are some things we have found over the last several months:

THE SERVICE FALLACY:

Taylor, Stoelting, and SaniServe all want you to think that you need to have one of their service technicians to fix the machines or trouble shoot.  Is this true?  No.  Ice cream machines are glorified refrigerators – there are some compressors to keep things cold and produce the freezing in the cylinders, there is some copper wiring to transport refrigerant,  fans and electrical components, and the only real different is the beater or blender in the freezing cylinder that stirs the product (which is metal and plastic and is run by a standard motor).  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure these machines out, guys!  Anyone who has been trained in HVAC or refrigeration will be easily able to work on the machines.

So why do they want you to think they need to service them?  It’s business, the company makes money selling machines and then if they didn’t offer service they would have reached their potential for sales, but now with a service agreement they can charge 80+ an hour to come oil your machine and switch out a motor belt.  There is also a lot of money to be made on the parts.  Some of these companies charge excess of $700 for one beater or blade part if the metal needs to be replaced.  Talk about being in the right business.

I didn’t mention Electro-Freeze above and they do say you need to have them service the machines also.  Well, honestly, in most cases it is more efficient and cost effective to have a factory trained Electro freeze rep help you.  Why?  Because they use relays, like the old computers from the 70s.  It is hard to troubleshoot the machine with 1000s of useless relays.  So we just suggest that you avoid electro-freeze unless you want to be like a client of ours in California who has to wait 2-3 weeks for a rep to make the 2 hour drive to fix his machine.   Better to use a machine everyone can fix!

 WATER COOLED VS. AIR COOLED and SINGLE VS DUAL COMPRESSOR

OK, without going into too much detail here is what I have found for Self Serve Frozen Yogurt locations, keep in mind there are always lots of factors to consider, but:

Air-cooled machines seem to be the way to go if you have enough air, ambient temp below 75, and a good sized back room.  Especially if you can arrange the machine in an arch like Menchies yogurt stores.  This keeps the air further away from the next machine.  Most cities will not allow you to let water go without being recycled, so for that reason alone it is easier to do air cooled.  With an water cooled machine you would either have to do a recycling unit on the roof or a glycol cooling unit.  Either option is expensive, excessive, and creates more future problems.  I have been to many, many, self serve stores with 8 machines that are all air cooled without any difference in quality of yogurt or consistency.

 

As far as the number of compressors on your soft serve equipment it comes down mostly to production.  If you are at a self serve store with 5 or more machines the load is going to be split over the machines, so a small output machine with twin twist and a 2-3 gallon capacity per hopper is ideal.  Pair the yogurts accordingly and you will not need to adjust each side to different hardness levels.  The good things about using a single compressor machine is:

save money on initial costs, and easier to maintain, less energy consumption

Why are the single compressor machines easier to maintain and service?  The machine is the same size regardless (on the outside), the diffrence is on the inside.  Take apart a single compressor machine and you can reach in and access all parts with ease.  Take apart a dual compressor, dual motor machine and you have two times more parts in the same room.  Talk about clutter!  Sometimes you will have to take out parts just to get to the part that needs to be fixed, this results in more service time, higher costs, and also less effective equipment.

Sometimes, if you are using the machine say for just a single machine at a fair and only have 2 flavors, then it would be realistic to get a higher capacity machine… Or like a dairy queen or McDonald with only 2 flavors.

Frozen Yogurt 2012 – The evolution of Americans favorite new desert!

Well… if you’ve followed this blog at all, you will know that we havn’t hit the deadlines on ice cream machine reviews that we initially set. Sorry! 🙁 However, that doesn’t mean we’ve been asleep at the wheel either. The last few months have been incredibly busy despite the winter months! What this means ? Frozen yogurt stores that are doing it right are staying busy.

Frozen Yogurt, and soft serve machine sales have also been off the charts despite the winter months.  Store owners are frantically signing leases and doing build-outs trying to have a complete package and open shop for March Madness!  If your in a small town that doesn’t have a frozen yogurt store and ones not coming then let us know!

Anyways, we have just finished our first official review.  And we are going to shoot to have at least 1 store review per week and machine reviews shortly.  Please comment with any ideas or if you have a store in particular you would like to have reviewed, or if you would like franchise information, product mix information, or anything else.

Thanks!