Are Cambridge and Somerville headed for peak froyo?
The launch of Yogurtland at 57 JFK St., Harvard Square, could help decide – it’s the square’s third frozen yogurt joint after Pinkberry at 1380 Massachusetts Ave. and BerryLine at 3 Arrow St. (not to mention the BerryLine up toward Porter Square at 1668 Massachusetts Ave.) in addition to the frozen yogurt offerings at the square’s J.P. Licks, Ben & Jerry’s and Baskin-Robbins shops.
When Davis Square faced having a third dedicated frozen yogurt shop in November after its recently opened iYo Cafe and Orange Leaf locations, Somerville’s Zoning Board of Appeals was skeptical and Pinkberry backed away. (Update: Pinkberry changed its mind again, and in July work began turning 263 Elm St., once the Massachusetts Insurance Agency, into a frozen yogurt shop.)
Cambridge and Harvard Square, which the local business association claims gets 8 million visitors a year, takes a different approach, and is loading up the area with frozen yogurt dispensers like a tween loads up a bowl of soft-serve with toppings. That’s good for the aggressively expanding Yogurtland chain, which has cracked the doors on more than 220 locations around the world since launch in 2006 and in May announced plans for at least 50 more. Last year the company announced plans to open about 20 of those shops in Greater Boston, making Harvard Square, Brookline, Newbury Street and Newton Center just the start.
“Yogurtland is very excited to be part of the historic and inviting Harvard Square community,” said Larry Sidoti, vice president of development at Yogurtland, in a press release. “We have received a warm welcome from frozen yogurt fans and the business community, and we look forward to serving our delicious frozen yogurt for generations to come.”
Why not? We love our ice cream, even year-round, and our frozen yogurt as well. The stuff was invented at the H.P. Hood dairy, the story goes, by an employees experimenting with a soft-serve ice cream machine, and Harvard Square’s The Spa apparently served the first-ever frozen yogurt Feb. 3, 1971, only to close over a lease disagreement in the fall of 1980. The Harvard Crimson eulogized The Spa and that era’s froyo craze with this irony-filled paragraph:
Most businessmen in the area said yesterday the store’s closing came as a surprise, but some said the store’s profits have declined in recent years. “The fad is over on yogurt,” Sam Citron, manager of the Baskin-Robbins outlet in Harvard Square, said yesterday, adding, “I know yogurt sales are off all over.”
For more on the area’s new frozen yogurt land rush, including in Davis Square, see this Boston Globe item.
Harvard Square’s Yogurtland is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. It uses the by-now familiar fro-yo shop layout: a wall of 16 self-serve flavors and a bar with 60-plus toppings, with costs calculated by the ounce.