I have to start out by apologizing to our dear friend Mr. Yogato. We are Yogato loyalists through and through (see exhibit A). We've shunned Tangysweet and Sweetgreen yogurt in favor of the quirky and fun-loving Mr. Y. We've recited haikus at his first birthday party, built a pasta sculpture of his adorable likeness, donated a haiku-only whiteboard for his store, and have worn countless "Mr. Yogato stamped me" forehead stamps around town. So it is with a somewhat heavy heart that I must admit that we stole a quick date with another yogurt shop. I'm sorry Mr. Y. She was the new kid on the block and she was calling my name with her self-serve style. She's sexy and she's new, but she's not worthy of being Mrs Y. You'll always be our number one.
With that out of the way, I introduce you to Fro-Zen-Yo. To my knowledge, it is the first self-serve frozen yogurt shop in DC. This style of yogurt-eating brings back fond memories from my childhood in Orange County, CA. There is a self-serve yogurt place that I went to called America's Cup that was letting customers over-indulge way back in the early 90's before frozen yogurt was called (shudder) "fro yo," and before anyone thought it was a good idea to make the stuff tart. I was pretty convinced that America's Cup was heaven. While I was too short to reach most of the machine levers, I was tall enough to reach the toppings bar. This usually resulted in a cup that was 90% toppings and 10% yogurt. That's the beauty of self-serve, you can do whatever the heck you want with it.
I give credit to Fro-Zen-Yo for having a wide variety of flavors. As seen from the photo above, you can wander between 8 machines with 2 flavors each to create your perfect yogurt creation. I was thrilled to see they have the "classic" sweet flavors such as peanut butter and some fun ones like birthday cake in addition to the ever so trendy tart flavors. The toppings bar is located at the back of the store and contains a respectable selection of goodies. They lose points for the lack of peanut butter cups and cookie dough, but gain points for the maraschino cherries and whipped cream canisters. They also earn points by doing a good job of wiping things up after customers make a mess. Often, self-serve yogurt places are plagued by gross, sticky spots on each and every surface.
After paying, I noticed that they had a hot topping bar. Since it was placed after the cash registers and their website says "FREE HOT FUDGE", I'm wondering if you can add hot fudge after you've weighed and paid? Anyone know what the deal is?
After you've filled your cup to your heart's content, you place the yogurt on a scale. You pay per ounce, so you determine your destiny. B has a fancy way of putting toppings on the bottom, then yogurt, then more toppings to maximize topping distribution. He's a methodical engineer about it while I just say "Ooooh toppings!" and pile them on.
So was Ms. Fro-Zen-Yo able to lure us in with her flexible create-your-own ways? While we love the self-serve concept, the store is lacking the fun factor of Mr. Y. The staff was texting instead of interacting, and the few chairs and sterile interior don't make it an inviting place to linger.
I like the variety of yogurt flavors, but I found they vary wildly in tastiness. Some have a super-chemically taste (I'm looking at you, Red Velvet), while others are rich and creamy. The Blueberry Tart was so tart that it overpowered everything else in B's cup, but he gave high marks to the Cheesecake.
I think Fro-Zen-Yo is worth a shot if you're in the neighborhood. From a sign in the store advertising future locations, you might always be in the neighborhood of Fro-Zen-Yo. They have a ridiculous number of new locations planned. However, if you want quirky, fun, with a side of adorable, you can't beat Mr. Yogato.
Second Thoughts from B
I am loyal, almost to a fault. It is just who I am. I won't wear any other team paraphernalia or even the colors of a rival team. I literally can count on one hand the number of red items in my entire wardrobe. It is not superstition. When my best man spoke at my wedding, he spoke about loyalty. It shows up in my personal relationships, my rooting interests, and apparently, in my yogurt shop selections.
That's why this post is laced with guilt. I love Mr. Yogato. It is kind of like our Cheers, and J and I are Norm and Cliff (I'll let you determine which is which). They didn't go because the beer was any better. They went for the whole experience, and of course, because... (cue the theme song music) sometimes you wanna go...
But let's focus on the yogurt, and only the yogurt. Summoning all of my objectivity, I might admit privately that I like Fro-Zen-Yo's offerings more. The variety, especially the creamy/sweet yogurt, are really good and being able to take a little of everything from the toppings bar is great for those who are often indecisive, like me. Publicly however, I'm a Mr. Y man without equivocation. So, shhhh, don't tell anyone about this...