Pinkberry Long Beach Reviews
Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt Mar 08, 2008
Ok, so I keep hearing about this frozen yogurt place in Southern California called Pinkberry. It's all over the news in Los Angeles touted as the yogurt that "launched 1,000 parking tickets". My Mom had sent me the articles before which talked about the chaos this place was causing in the upscale West Hollywood neighborhood it went into. Apparently, it's overwhelming popularity has caused it to be called crackberry and frozen heroin juice. Here's a link (you have to click on LA Times after it opens): http://www.pinkberry.com/html/groupie_5.php
Since that article appeared, business has absolutely boomed and they've opened 30 more stores in the Los Angeles area and same with NYC. Plans for 2008 include Las Vegas (watch for it Mel!!) and San Diego.
Since I was down in the LA area for a week and happened to be driving through my old stompin' grounds in Belmont Shores, thought I'd finally try it. Had to see if all this hype is worth it.
For those not familiar with the 2nd Street area of Belmont Shores/Long Beach, parking is an extreme nightmare...especially on a nice day like today! So, after driving around a few blocks for almost 1/2 hour, a 24 minute parking spot opened outside the cigar bar, right around the corner! But the article talks about lines that can be 1-2 hours long. For frozen yogurt?!?! Fortunately, my parents have the handicapped pass with them, allowing us to stay in the spot longer! SWEET!
We walk around the corner and are instantly greeted with the line out the door. I started checking the place out (of what I could see of it inside since it was wall to wall people) and it was interesting. Funky decor and definitely a modern, cool vibe. So to redeem myself with our resident TravBuddy Foodie, Mel (Mellemel8), I decide to try and get some photos of the inside. As soon as I snap the first photo, my Dad tells me to stop and points to this lovely sign on the outside that says no photography!! What?!?! I casually put my camera away and hope I don't get it confiscated!! (See what I risk for you Mel!!)
Anyways, we start to get inside and I had been warned they have a very simple menu (reminded me of In-N-Out Burger actually). Normally two flavors only - original and green tea. They just introduced a new flavor, coffee. They come in three sizes and we figured out the medium was the best deal as it came with 3 toppings for $4.95 (each topping is usually $.95). Their range of toppings were interesting - they had the usual chocolate chips, crumbled cookies, carob chips, granola chips, almonds, and coconut. But what's this - I had childhood flashbacks...Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles, and Captain Crunch! In addition to those, they had some interesting fruit toppings - all fresh I might add. Mangoes, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, pineapples, and chestnuts.
My parents got the original flavor with almonds, coconut, and chocolate chips. I decided to be brave and try the green tea and be healthier by foregoing the sugary cereal toppings and going for the fruit. I had mangoes, kiwi, and raspberries.
We decided to get ours to go and just brave them melting a little because there really was no place left to sit down. Something unique though - they offered a bag of ice when you get it to go. Pretty ingenious!
So, now the moment of truth...is it all it's cracked up to be. For us, simply - no. It was ok but not something I see myself craving 2-3 times a week like some people. I will suggest that although the fruit looks great, the natural fruit with the tangy yogurt is a big much. I almost think I liked the chocolate and nuts better as it needed more sweetness. The green tea was especially tart and it needed that mixture of salty/sweet to enhance it.
Apparently the draw to Pinkberry is its all natural goodness and health factor (no fat and about 70 calories a serving). It definitely tastes more like regular yogurt versus the traditional frozen yogurt we are mostly used to. People are becoming more and more health conscious and Pinkberry is all natural, made from milk (no yogurt powder) - which apparently is why it's not as sweet as traditional frozen yogurt.
I have to commend the owner for her vision though - it's a great story. She is in her early 30's and a Korean immigrant, here only since the early 90's I believe. She came to America for business school and had her first restaurant at 25 which failed and had another restaurant that also went under. This was her last ditch effort at making a go of the food industry, and she obviously struck gold this time. She teamed up with a local designer/architect to help with the project design who's now her boyfriend. Neither of them thought the venture would turn into what it has in the last couple years. (I've even seen a small business AMEX commercial with these two on it).
Apparently her vision was so good, copy cat stores are popping up now. She originally got a lot of publicity through various stars being spotted in the store (Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan were two mentioned). But even that has waned, Paris was recently spotted at another frozen yogurt establishment. Oh no! LOL.
I just do not get what the hype is and rich or not, why people would double park and pay $50 for a parking ticket just to get this stuff!!! The store in West Hollywood estimated to be serving 1,300 - 1,600 customers a day (this was back before she even expanded). Please, don't get me wrong, it's not that I hated it - just not sure I would go through all the hassle of going back. Of course, one article noted the first time you eat it, you are like "eh", and then you ask yourself, "did I just eat this whole thing?" and it's the next day that the addiction sets in. Hmmm...guess I have to wait until tomorrow to see if it's true! :-)
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