Yogurt Wars

If the craze fades, only the smartest operators will be left standing.

Yogurt Wars

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Where the execs get their fix

David McNeil, principal, McNeil Wilson Communications
Where: Yogurtland or Red Mango
Flavors: Vanilla, mango, plain, pumpkin spice
Toppings: "I’m a purist, no toppings."
Meredith Ching, director of communications, Alexander & Baldwin
Where: Menchie's
Flavors: Original tart and lychee tart
Toppings: Mochi balls, blueberries and almonds. "Boring, huh?"
Eric Yeaman, president/CEO, Hawaiian Telcom
Where: Yogurtland
Flavors: Coconut, vanilla
Toppings: Mochi balls and dark-chocolate chips. "I’m a huge frozen-yogurt fan."
Gwen Yamamoto Lau, president, Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corp.
Where: Yogurtland
Flavors: Vanilla, coffee, cookies and cream
Toppings: Nuts and granola. I'm getting ono for this now!

Aloha ‘oe, ice cream?

“More and more people are getting away from eating ice cream and are choosing frozen yogurt as a healthier alternative,” says Tina Marie Pinlac, owner of Yogen Fruz in Hawaii.

Last year, Yogurtland took over the former Baskin Robbins site in Waimalu Shopping Center. Owner Charlin Johnston says, “If I wanted to open more stores, I’d look for where the ice cream shops are, because the ice cream industry – the Dairy Queens, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stones – is dying.”

Jean Ewart, who owns the Ward Center Cold Stone Creamery, says sales have been down between 5 percent and 8 percent since Menchie’s opened down the street. However, she hasn’t determined if that’s due to the poor economy or Menchie’s. Either way, Ewart isn’t too worried. “Sure, it was a concern when Menchie’s opened, but look at Ben & Jerry’s. They opened up down the street from us, too, and they came and went.”

Keith Robbins, owner of Bubbies Ice Cream, says the nearby Yogurtland hasn’t hurt sales at his University location. “There are a lot of people who just prefer good, old-fashioned ice cream over yogurt.

“In my opinion, all the frozen-yogurt shops can’t survive,” Robbins says. “They will eventually kill themselves off and we’ll be left with one or two.” He says history has shown that people eventually go back to basics: “They want a good hamburger, a good pizza and good ice cream. Those things never go out of style.”

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