A strange thing has happened in Lowell this summer, five new frozen yogurt places have opened up. Those five plus the two that opened up within the past year brings our grand total up to seven. That’s a lot of froyo for one mid-sized city to have (and I’m not even counting the froyo places that have recently opened up in neighboring towns.)
What is up with all this froyo? I have no idea. Why is there a sudden explosion of froyo in Lowell right now? Still no idea. What I do know is that Gist and I made it our mission to try all of them to pick
the best, no our favorite, no the one we’ll be visiting the most often. Here are our totally unscientific and subjective results:
First FroYo: Pure FroYo on Merrimack Street
Flavor: Red velvet cake topped with gummi bears and gummi worms
Second FroYo:Sweet Kiwi on Bridget Street
Flavor: Honeydew, coconut, and mango topped with gummi bears
Third FroYo: Berryrich on Bridge Street
Flavor: Coconut, mango, and berry-pomegranate topped with gummi bears
Fourth FroYo: The Frozen Spoon on Dutton Street
Flavor: Peach/vanilla twist with, yup, gummi bears – these gummi bears are different from the bears served at the other froyo places. I did not care for them (yes, I am a gummi bear connoisseur, step off.)
Fifth FroYo: Frozurt on Bridge Street
Flavor: Green apple & mango + gummi bears
Sixth FroYo: Frozurt on Chelmsford Street
Flavor: Blue raspberry, strawberry & strawberry shortcake plus gummi bears
Final FroYo: FroYo Fresh on Market Street
Flavor: Pineapple, mango, and coconut with gummi bears.
The Verdict: It’s complicated. Helpful, right?
First I’ll say that all of the yogurt we tried was good. Some were better than others, but they were all yummy. Berryrich and Frozen Spoon tasted best to me; Gist liked Berryrich best.
The flavors change as they run out so you never know what will be available on a given day. Some of the places tweet/post on Facebook what their daily flavors are but I don’t follow all of the shops so I can’t speak to which do and which don’t.
All of the shops, except for the Frozen Spoon (which was the very first froyo place in Lowell,) are self-serve. That means that you go into the shop, grab a cup, and can put however much of whatever flavor of froyo you want in your cup and you can top it with any number of toppings at a topping bar. The prices ranged from something like $.38 an ounce to $.49 an ounce. All of the self-serve places had between three and six yogurt stations, and each station has two flavors. Twist was available at each station. The Frozen Spoon offers two flavors and unlimited toppings in a small, medium, and large size. I don’t remember the prices but they were pretty reasonable.
As I mentioned above, each self-serve store had different numbers of stations. Most had three or four, but Frozurt on Bridge Street had something like six (which was 12 different flavors and six twist options.) At most of the shops, we were offered samples of any of the flavors – this is a great way to sell yogurt.
Some stores had a lot of flavors I liked (fruity) and some had not as many; each of the self-serve places offered and “original tart” flavor. Berryrich also offered one station (two flavors) of yogurt that was okay for people with diabetes and/or lactose intolerance to eat. I am neither of those things, but I liked that the option was available.
The places that had the highest numbers of “my” flavors were Pure FroYo, Berryrich, and Sweet Kiwi. My favorite flavors that I tasted: red velvet, honeydew, and green apple. (An aside, I was not at all impressed with Frozurt’s selection of flavors but the green apple that I got at the Bridge Street location was my favorite flavor that I tried.)
All of the new froyo places were decorated exactly the same except for the color scheme. Same bar stools, same tables, same sofas, same flat-screen teevees. Apparently self-serve froyo has a “look” and no variation is allowed ;-)
Customer service varied. It wasn’t awful anywhere but the staff at Berryrich was especially helpful. The Frozen Spoon and Frozurt on Bridge Street also stood out.
Most of the locations accepted credit/debit cards. I don’t generally carry cash, so this is important to me. Frozurt on Chelmsford Street is cash-only and Sweet Kiwi is cash-only under $10 (a huuuuge pet peeve of mine. I know why businesses have that policy but it really annoys me. Also, I’m lazy: I’ll go to a place that takes cards before I’ll go to an ATM.)
Location: obviously this entire post is subjective and my location ratings are no different. The best (for me) locations are the ones that I can walk to, either from work or from home. So, Pure FroYo (work) and Sweet Kiwi (home.) HOWEVER, while Sweet Kiwi is located less than a mile from where I live, getting there on foot or bike is awful. So while I like to think I’d walk/bike there I probably won’t. Gist will definitely not be doing either of those things. So the only shop with a real location advantage is Pure FroYo.
Other random thoughts about froyo in Lowell: I think it’s totally bizarre that we are in the midst of a froyo boom. Of all the things to pop up, I can’t believe it was froyo. I am operating under the assumption that each of these business owners did market research before opening their businesses and that it’s just a coincidence that they all landed on the same trend and opened (pretty much) within weeks of each other.
Do I think that Lowell can support seven froyo places? No. Of course not. Do I think that it’s unfortunate that some of these froyo places will probably fail. Yes, of course. What do I think is going to make the difference between success and failure for these places: location and customer service.
That being said, I am interested to see what’s going to happen with The Frozen Spoon. They’ve been in business for about a year (so they’ve survived a winter,) their product is good, and they are very friendly and helpful. However, their model is now outdated. Self-serve is where it’s at, and I’m not sure if The Frozen Spoon will remain competitive. They’ve had a year to build a loyal customer base and it will be interesting to see if that will protect them.
So which froyo place was
the best, no my favorite, no the one I’ll be visiting the most often? And why?
The froyo shop that I anticipate I will visit the most often is Pure FroYo on Merrimack Street. Why? Both Gist and I can walk there from where we work. Also, I really like their red velvet cake flavor.
Which froyo shop did I like the best? Gist and I both liked Berryrich the best. The location stinks (for us) but their flavor selection and customer service were top-notch. Everyone working at Berryrich seemed really happy and excited to be there and to be providing us with the best froyo experience possible. The staff there was great (and granted I’ve only been there once) an, based on that, I would get in the car and drive to Berryrich to get froyo.
Will we go to the other places? Probably just The Frozen Spoon because it’s different, and maybe Sweet Kiwi because it’s so close to home. Of the two on Merrimack Street, I prefer Pure Fro Yo. Of the two on Bridge Street, I prefer Berryrich (although Frozurt’s green apple was really yummy.) I don’t often travel on Chelmsford Street and I wouldn’t make a special trip there for froyo.
So there you have it, over 1, 300 words later. Apparently I really do have an obsession with froyo ;-) If you have a particular favorite, or if you’ve ventured into the wilds of Chelmsford, Andover, Dracut to try their froyo and there’s one you really love, please let me know in the comments!