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RIP, fro-yo? The trend rose to cupcake proportions, but now it’s essentially lost its pulse. While some holdouts remain—like Mr. Yogato and FroZenYo—far more have fallen. Take a look back at the fast-burning flame of ice cream’s fleetingly famous cousin.
A transplant from Hollywood where fans called it “Crackberry,” Pinkberry made its debut to the D.C. area in October 2010 with a location in Fairfax Corner. Another outpost in Georgetown opened in December 2011. But as the national chain turns 10, the local franchise filed for bankruptcy last month. All but one of the area locations—in Reagan National Airport—have closed.
Restaurateur Aaron Gordon purports to be the first to bring the frozen yogurt craze to D.C. with the 2008 opening of Tangysweet in Penn Quarter. (Mr. Yogato opened just a few weeks later.) It was followed by a Dupont location, which closed in 2011. Meanwhile, Gordon has replaced the original with a Viennese-inspired cafe called Bakers & Baristas that opens this week. “The initial shine has worn off frozen yogurt,” Gordon says.
Tasti D-Lite describes itself as a “New York phenomenon.” And when it first opened in the area, franchise owner Greg Karanzalis promised 25 locations in Maryland, D.C., and Delaware over 10 years. So much for that. Tasti D-Lite’s Columbia Heights and Dupont Circle locations both closed in August 2012 after less than a year in business.
Frozen yogurt (aka “Sweetflow”) was a central part of Sweetgreen’s business model at its inception. The salad biz even had a Sweetflow Mobile that began roaming the streets in the summer of 2009. Not only has the food truck permanently parked, but the rest of the frozen yogurt operation screeched to a halt at all new locations last year. “The yogurt was the only thing that was a lot harder to innovate on,” says co-owner Nic Jammet. “So we decided, ‘let’s simplify.’”
In 2008, Canadian chain Yogen Früz announced its lofty ambition to bring 16 stores to Virginia and D.C. Seven years later, it’s nowhere close to that goal. A shop near Franklin Square closed in 2013, but you can still find Yogen Früz in non-storefront locations like the concession stand at AMC Georgetown or inside Cafe Grande on K Street NW. It’s also still standing in Woodbridge, Va., but a Pentagon City locale is long gone.
Pinkberry photo by Darrow Montgomery. Bakers & Baristas photo by Jessica Sidman. Tasti D-Lite photo courtesy Tasti D-Lite. Sweetgreen photo by Tim Carman. Yogen Früz photo courtesy Yogen Früz.