Not even nor’easters could stop Johnny Ngo and Dan Lu from opening Frutti Twist Frozen Yogurt Cafe on Elm Street in Manchester. The frozen yogurt shop opened during a Tuesday snowstorm in mid-February, followed by a grand opening that weekend when the weather was more cooperative.
“[The opening] was kind of unexpected because it was still in the middle of February,” he said. “We just wanted to push the store to open, and it didn’t really matter if we opened in January — we still had to open because we wanted our name to be out there. We were surprised how the grand opening went. Lucky for us, that day it was around 50-something degrees, which was pretty warm.”
Ngo said that more than 500 people came in for frozen yogurt that day. Social media and advertising helped bring in the crowd, Ngo said.
Frutti Twist is one of the latest frozen yogurt shops to open up in southern New Hampshire. Manchester currently has about five fro-yo shops between Bedford, the West Side and South Willow Street locations. The recent openings follow a trend that began in California.
“The frozen yogurt trend in the past five years has been growing,” Ngo said.
Ngo and Lu don’t want Frutti Twist Frozen Yogurt Cafe to feel like other fro-yo shops and have designed a space they hope is welcoming to downtown employees, students and even group meetings.
“We want to be kind of different,” Ngo said. “[The cafe is] not bright; we cater to a relaxed environment. We want people to come here and not just grab frozen yogurt and leave, but we want people to stay and enjoy the atmosphere that we’ve created.”
To help promote a cafe atmosphere, Ngo and Lu have incorporated lounge areas with dark couches and free WiFi.
The frozen yogurt at Frutti Twist is self-serve. Customers pick out a 16-ounce or 20-ounce cup and can select from a variety of frozen yogurt flavors, then add fruit, candy, sprinkles or syrups as toppings. Flavors will change on a bi-weekly basis, and Lu said they’d like to utilize social media like Facebook to announce upcoming flavors.
“We have so many different flavors that you can try before you buy, obviously, and blend them in to make another flavor,” Ngo said.
Last week, Frutti Twist had flavors like the traditional California Tart, French Vanilla and Triple Chocolate, as well as Mint Chocolate Chip, Taro and Salted Caramel Pretzel. Customers can customize flavor combinations, too, and the machines can blend flavors (like Oreo and Espresso creates JaMocha Oreo Shake, and Triple Chocolate plus Peanut Butter will make a Peanut Butter Cup flavor).
“Everyone knows what ice cream is. Most people start trying frozen yogurt, it gives them a better alternative health-wise,” Lu said. “Nowadays, people are watching what they eat.”
Frozen yogurt does have benefits like non-fat, low-fat and gluten-free options and can be lower in calories than ice cream. If you can resist the candy toppings, there is also plenty of fresh fruit at the topping station.
“You go into an ice cream shop, you don’t see fruits. You don’t have options like mango, pineapple, strawberry or kiwi,” Lu said.
“[Customers] actually react differently. They just think it wasn’t possible to put [fruit] on their dessert,” Ngo said.
Ngo and Lu have plans to bring more options to Frutti Twist, including gelato, smoothies and bubble tea.
As seen in the April 17, 2014 issue of the Hippo.