Saturday, November 14, 2009
Pinkberry debuts Dallas store on Thursday night
Frozen-yogurt chain opens first branch outside of L.A. or N.Y.
November may seem a counter-intuitive time to open a frozen-dessert shop in season-conscious Dallas, but that didn't stop Los Angeles-based frozen-yogurt chain Pinkberry from grand-opening its inaugural Dallas store at the northwest corner of Preston and Royal on Thursday night.
With a management team and training staff in from L.A. to oversee the event, the store hosted a reception at the Merge boutique next door, and gave out freebies to a line of people who showed up between 6 and 10 p.m. They also introduced a new chocolate flavor "made with really good chocolate," said one of the guys in suits, though he couldn't say what kind of chocolate it was, other than the fact that it was very good.
Pinkberry was the first entity in the U.S. to popularize the frozen-yogurt concept, so yippy-skippy that it's here. But there's no way Pinkberry can capture the local imagination like it did when it first opened in Los Angeles in 2005. We already know all about the neon colors, Plexiglas walls, Pebble Tec flooring, and mod furniture, being as we already have dozens of frozen-yogurt places across Dallas and Fort Worth -- most of which are the superior self-serve model that allows consumers to mix-and-match flavors at their own speed.
Pinkberry is old-school wherein a server dispenses the frozen yogurt for you, then doles out your toppings. Until 2008, Pinkberry offered two flavors, and even now it has only five flavors total: the Really Good chocolate mentioned above, plus original, pomegranate, coconut, passionfruit, and green tea -- all good but a paltry selection compared to the dozen-plus flavors available at most self-serve spots.
Like most frozen-yogurt chains, Pinkberry is tight-lipped about what its yogurt is made of, with Pinkberry CEO Ron Graves declaring that its formula is proprietary, which he did with the kind of flinch and hardened jawline you get when you're 1. answering the same question repeatedly and 2. stonewalling. It's a fascinating aspect of this industry that it's considered acceptable to not divulge the formula they use when it's something that we eat, as in "with our mouths."
The formula I like to use -- which I don't mind sharing one bit -- is that, the more secretive they are, the fishier the smell.
Meanwhile, Graves shifted the topic from ingredients to the Starbucksian, Noka-esque rap about how it isn't so much the yogurt itself as it is the experience, the freshness, the opportunity to sit down and have an indulgence.
The Dallas store is the first store to open outside of California and New York; Dallas-based Saxton-Pierce Restaurant Corp., responsible for franchising the McAlister's Deli chain, is the Pinkberry franchiser not only for Dallas but everywhere in the flyover zone between the coasts.
Graves listed three reasons for choosing Dallas: 1. we're a big city, 2. we have money, and 3. we like yogurt -- a generic response that you could use to describe lots of large cities across the country. No reference to Dallas being the birthplace of '80s frozen-yogurt chain I Can't Believe It's Yogurt or the home of Paciugo Gelato -- not to mention the recently adopted headquarters of its arch-rival Red Mango.
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