Convenience represents a key attribute when consumers select a restaurant. Healthful attributes of the food can also play a role, too. Yogurtland hopes combining the two is the recipe for success moving forward with its newest concept Holsom by Yogurtland.
This new concept combines Yogurtland's customizable frozen yogurt platform with what the company refers to as the three Bs: bakery, beverage and bowls.
Bakery relates to the collection of savory and sweet toasts now on the menu. Sweet options include ricotta and blueberry and an almond butter with banana. The savory options include avocado and tomato basil, among others.
Beverages, as its name implies, refers to a collection of hot beverages such as chai tea lattes and a hot chocolate. It also includes cold drinks such as sparkling waters infused with fruit juices, various forms of iced teas and more. “We are trying to get everyone from those that like it sweet to those that like something a little less so,” says Gary Hunter, director of franchise operations for Yogurtland.
And bowls includes grain bowls, including Thai and Greek-inspired options, acai bowls and a granola bowl. Each of the bowl options are customizable. “We really want to expand our offerings to give our guests the chance to do what they did with Yogurtland – build their own experiences through customization,” Hunter says.
Holsom by Yogurtland was designed to work within the chain’s existing 1,200-square-foot prototype but will require a few modifications. “Our pilot store has been a Yogurtland for many years. We went in and made a few adjustments, adding a few machines and extending the counter,” Hunter says. Those adjustments include removing a couple of frozen yogurt machines and adding items to support each of the three Bs, including beverage equipment, a rice cooker and a toaster.
What won’t change is the way guests order and interact with staff. “Most of our orders go through kiosks. As guests enter, we welcome them and introduce them to the kiosks,” Hunter says. “They can look over the menu and make their selections. When the orders pop-up on the line, the staff members see it and make the food.”
Another element that won’t change is the back of the house or the preparation process. Yogurtland will continue to receive deliveries of fresh produce that staff will prep onsite and the process will generally remain the same. “Most of our stores are built with very large walk-ins and the reduction of frozen yogurt machines frees up a lot of space,” Hunter says. “And the ingredients are multiuse. For example, we have pineapples that appear in the yogurt and in our drinks. In a Yogurtland store, staff is going to prep the produce and that’s the same level of prep you will have with Holsom. If they can prep a strawberry at Yogurtland, they can prep produce at Holsom.”
That multiuse approach to ingredients also applies to the new hot items. For example, there’s a salmon toast on the menu and guests can select that protein when ordering bowls, too. “And we also have chicken available that can go on any of our products,” Hunter adds. “From a cooking perspective, we cook rice and make toast. That’s about it from a hot food perspective.”
It’s that system simplicity that allows the Holsom by Yogurtland to maintain an average ticket time of four minutes. “Once everything is on the line it’s really just assembly,” Hunter says. “Training is very quick and there’s very few single use items. And the portioning is the same across any platform we have.”
Holsom by Yogurtland also considers the importance of serving off-premises customers who prefer to use third-party delivery companies or opt to order ahead by using the chain’s app and picking up their food. The operator did need to add some hot food holding capabilities. “We’ve made sure from the beginning we know how to hold the food properly,” Hunter says. “We have special directions for our third-party drivers so they can move right past the line and get their food to hold.”
In addition, the company sees each of the three Bs as its own module, ensuring flexibility moving forward. “What we’ve done with this program is any of the modules can be added to any of our stores,” Hunter says. “If a store just wants to add beverages, they can do that.”
This flexibility may prove to be particularly beneficial for existing locations operating from malls or other lifestyle centers. “There are some cases where our use cause in a shopping center may prevent us from selling bowls, so we would just put in beverages and toast in that instance,” Hunter says.
When the company adds new units, they will likely be Holsom by Yogurtland locations. “With our existing franchisees it’s up to them to decide what they want to do. With new franchisees, the idea would be for them to do both,” Hunter adds. “The limitation we have Yogurtland is the upper end of a per person check. It will run in the $6-7 range. Whereas with Holsom, guests can get a bowl, a drink and a yogurt so the check averages are nearly double.”
Like countless other restaurant operators, Yogurtland has increased its safety focus since the start of the pandemic. It offers patio dining where it can, touchless sanitation and line markers on the floor to promote social distancing among guests. The chain also separated its kiosks to promote social distancing and added protective shields at the counter and along the make line.