Frozen yogurt is making a comeback around town. A new TCBY is opening on Union near Belvedere, and a Yogurlite sign has gone up on Poplar just east of Mendenhall.
Joining the resurgence is the locally owned self-serve yogurt shop YoLo, with one store to open in East Memphis and one in Collierville later in the summer.
Taylor Berger, part owner of the operation with Haskins Glass and Mike McCaskill, learned about the self-serve yogurt-shop concept in Birmingham, Alabama. "I was just blown away. It was so much fun," Berger says. "I always get frustrated when I have to pay a dollar to get a little scoop of topping. The toppings are the best part!" Now Memphians will have a chance to grab a cup, fill it to their liking with frozen yogurt and toppings, and pay by the ounce. "You get to be the master of your own destiny," Berger says.
The store was originally called LoYo (short for "local yogurt"), but about a month and a half ago, Berger received a cease-and-desist order on behalf of the North Carolina company Local Yogurt. "They said that they've been using the word 'lo-yo.' Despite the fact that we may have been successful if we'd fought it," says Berger, an attorney himself, "it wasn't really a risk that I could take."
Luckily, since none of the permanent signs were made at that point, switching to YoLo was easy. Berger's friend Robert Finkel designed the logo: a clean icon reminiscent of an old-fashioned creamery with the slogan "Local is Better."
The yogurt will come from Honey Hill Farms in Russellville, Arkansas, and is made of real dairy yogurt with live cultures. All the flavors are kosher and gluten-free, and most of them are low-fat, if not fat-free. They also have a non-dairy mango sorbet with real mango puree for vegan fro-yo fans. Triple chocolate, strawberry with real strawberries, blueberry tart, birthday cake, pomegranate, espresso, and island coconut will start off the first round of flavors, but the options will rotate seasonally and depend on customer feedback.
Berger is also committed to using as many local vendors as possible for the toppings — dry toppings such as cookies and brownies from local bakeries and cold toppings, like fresh fruit from local farmers.
"I've asked [the bakers] to be as creative as they can, to think about what they would want on yogurt," Berger says. "That's what is so great about working with these local people: It's an opportunity for them to experiment and get their name out there. We're really going to showcase who made the particular topping."
YoLo will also serve McCarter coffee and tea from Groovy Foods. (Groovy Foods will provide granola for the toppings menu as well.)
They won't be open until early August, but Berger is currently hiring, particularly for the Erin Drive location. When they do open their doors, they will do business from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to midnight on weekends.
As for the locations, Berger says he chose Erin Drive (off Poplar, west of Mendenhall) because it's near where he grew up and tucked into a shopping center with other restaurants: Huey's, Holiday Ham and Turkey, and Ciao Bella. The Collierville location on the historic town square is perfect for the old-fashioned dairy feel.
"We felt that would be a fun place to build a shop, where we depend on a family market," Berger says. "We chose to build [on the square] as opposed to a strip mall because we wanted to have a more authentic feel. We're from here, and we're in it for the long haul."
YoLo, 559 Erin Drive; 102 E. Mulberry, Collierville; yolofroyo.com