So, I’ve been wondering … what exactly does stand for? Is it, as the graphics on the frozen yogurt shop walls state: Truly Can’t Beat Yogurt? Totally Cool and Bold Yogurt? Tasty Creamy Blissful Yogurt? All of the above? None of the above?
Actually, says regional operations manager Jeff Yoon, TCBY officially stands for “The Country’s Best Yogurt,” although when the chain first opened 30 years ago it stood for “This Can’t Be Yogurt” because customers thought the frozen dessert tasted too good to not be ice cream.
Not only does TCBY’s frozen yogurt taste good, says Yoon, “it’s actually healthy for you.” The company’s literature touts the frozen treat’s low calories and its levels of calcium, protein, Vitamins A and D, and probiotics. Yoon says he believes in the TCBY product. “People nowadays are a lot more conscious about (their) health,” he adds.
Yoon and his family also believe in Woodinville. Their business, Kiarba, is an area developer for Mrs. Field’s Famous Brands, which owns TCBY as well as Mrs. Field’s cookie outlets. While they oversee operations in all of Washington, Hawaii and South Korea, they chose Woodinville as the location for TCBY’s first self-serve shop.
“I strongly believe in a community,” says Yoon, adding that he likes it when acquaintances bump into each other in the shop. “We wanted this to be ... a family environment,” he says.
He hopes TCBY/Mrs. Field’s will be a gathering place for young people in town. “I would be comfortable with my kids going to a yogurt shop,” he notes, rather than “someplace they shouldn’t be.”
As for the self-serve nature of the shop: “It’s a brand new concept” for TCBY, says Yoon. “It’s all about you doing the work,” he says with a laugh. For most customers, my 15-year-old daughter included, it’s actually all about you having the fun.
On one wall of the shop are five sets of three spigots—each set offers two different flavors plus one spigot that dispenses a combination of the two. There are small cups for taste testing and large cups for servings. Also available are numerous toppings, including fruit, nuts, sprinkles, chocolate chips … and a lot more.
If you’re not sure how to operate the machines, one of the shop’s friendly employees will be glad to help you out.
The treats—yogurt plus topping—are priced at 43 cents per ounce. Hand-scooped yogurt, which has the consistency of ice cream, is also available, as are Mrs. Field’s cookies and Java Detour café drinks. Purchases can be taken to go, or enjoyed in the brightly colored café seating indoors or at outdoor tables.
The combination of a TCBY, Mrs. Field’s and Java Detour coffee shop in one location is also a first, says Yoon. The idea, he explains, is that whatever the season, you can enjoy a treat in their shop. The Woodinville location is a flagship store, he says, explaining that the family hopes to use it to attract others to open franchises elsewhere in their territory.
Since the grand opening in May, Yoon has seen some trends emerge in the store. In spite of the cool spring weather, frozen yogurt has been the biggest seller. While golden vanilla and chocolate are “core” flavors that are available every day, cake batter, white chocolate mousse and classic tart are popular as well. As for toppings, “anything colorful” moves quickly, he says.
Whatever people are buying, Yoon is enjoying himself. “What I love about this business is you get to see people smile,” he says. “And I get to eat yogurt for free,” he says, laughing.
“The whole concept is fun,” he adds. “I want people to come in and enjoy.”
My daughter and I are on our way!