The frozen yoghurt revolution has arguably been the biggest thing to hit Melbourne since the news that Snoop Dogg (or should I say Snoop Lion) is now allowed to enter our fine shores. And for anyone that's tried it, it can be unanimously agreed that Yo-Chi is leading the pack in terms of quality and deliciousness. We take two minutes with founders Manny Stul, Jason Solomon, and Jon Stul to talk about the froyo insurgency, their froyo inspirations, and what it's like as a business owner in Melbourne.
TUL: Tell us a bit about the concept of serve yourself froyo. Where did you first get the inspiration to open up shop in Melbourne?
Having seen the basic concept overseas, we saw an opportunity to take it to the highest level using natural ingredients, premium yogurts, outstanding friendly customer service, and innovative design. Being Melbournites, we couldn't think of a better place for our very first store!
TUL: To what do you attribute the mass influx of self-serve frozen yoghurt spots in Melbourne over the past 12 months?
A lot of people see a frozen yogurt store and think – easy. What they don't realise however is that to create a true frozen yogurt takes a lot of hard work, a lot of testing and trialing, and endless resources. Rushed flavours, cheap and nasty ingredients and design knock-offs simply won't stand the test of time – customers are smarter than that.
TUL: Considering this influx, how does your product stand out from the rest? Why is it always Yo-Chi I see with lines trailing out the door?
Because there's no substitute for quality and taste! Melbournites are a food savvy bunch and they know a copycat after a quick buck when they see one. Our customers are loyal because they know that we take the time to craft our flavours from scratch, using real and natural ingredients sourced from local suppliers. They know that our yogurt is made from "real" yogurt that we cultivate ourselves, and they know we're about fresh produce, healthy options and only selling what we are proud of. There are no cut-corners at Yo-Chi.
TUL: How long did it take you to get from the "We should open a frozen yoghurt shop" discussion to actually opening Yo-Chi in Balaclava?
It took some time, largely because of our staunch commitment to quality. From our yogurts, toppings and Smoochis to our store interiors - perfection is paramount and we invested a lot of time up front ensuring we had the resources and relationships to provide the highest quality products and best store experience for our customers, not just for today, but into the future.
TUL: Starting any business is hard work. What was the hardest thing about making Yo-Chi a success?
Ensuring we're always keeping things fresh and interesting for our customers. Innovation is at the forefront of any successful business plan, particularly when there are so many other players in the game. Luckily, we've got a great team of clever thinkers behind us who love a challenge!
TUL: You've recently opened your second store in Carlton, considering the fierce rivalry between north and south in Melbourne have there been any big differences you've noticed so far?
No big differences. We've been absolutely blown away by the support we've received from our friends north of the city since opening in December - particularly of our gluten-free and dairy-free options. Our vegan Coconut yogurt crafted from 100% pure coconut milk has also been a big hit north side!
TUL: What is your inspiration when deciding on your flavour combos & toppings choices? What is your menu based on at any given time during the year?
Because of our commitment to using real and fresh ingredients, our yogurt menu is heavily influenced by seasonal availability. When it comes to our toppings – it's about having healthy options interspersed with some unique treats which both satisfy different palates and compliment our yogurt flavours perfectly.
TUL: What's your favourite other Carlisle Street spot?
For coffee – Common Ground L.E.S
For a drink – Uncle
For lunch – Ziggys
TUL: What's your favourite Carlton spot?
For coffee – Market Lane
For a drink – Carlton Wine Room
For lunch – DOC Pizza
Image Credit: Yo-Chi