Frozen yogurt takes over Eau Claire

Story by Rita Fay, Staff Writer

Location. Location. Location. This motto has been said by real estate agents and business owners for years and for good reason.

Eau Claire’s fourth frozen yogurt shop has opened and location is what really sets them apart from each other.

Orange Leaf opened Jan. 23 on Mall Drive in Eau Claire.

Manager Amy Ochsner said she realizes they were crazy to open up a frozen yogurt restaurant in the middle of the winter, but business has been good.

“We picked next to Festival,” Ochsner said. “We liked this corner location. This intersection right here is great. We’re looking for families, high school-age kids, college-age kids, that’s really what we’re gearing towards. That really leaves it open for quite an array of age groups.”

With the opening of Orange Leaf, Eau Claire now has four frozen yogurt restaurants: CherryBerry, Raspberry Reign and Frogiyo being the other three.

Frogiyo was the first to open in April of last year. Owner Colleen Weber said she decided to open up after doing research in the Twin Cities and seeing the increase and success in frozen yogurt shops.

“It looked like it was going to do well in the Midwest,” Weber said. “Seeing that growth in the Twin Cities made me believe that it was going to be a good choice for Eau Claire. We didn’t have those at the time, so it was almost a natural fit.”

While Frogiyo and Raspberry Reign are privately owned, Orange Leaf and CherryBerry are franchises. Weber said there are pros and cons to being privately owned and being part of a franchise.

Weber said it might be easier for her to make changes and bring in new products. Frogiyo is also the only restaurant of the four to charge by the cup rather than by the ounce. They are trying to keep that model because their customers appreciate it, but she said she’s not sure that’s something franchises can do.

Senior Katelyn Hendren went to Orange Leaf and said the price difference isn’t something she would consider when choosing a restaurant.

“I don’t think I would pay for an entire cup at another restaurant,” Hendren said. “I think I would eat a lot less and pay less if I was paying by the ounce.”

Hendren said she went to Orange Leaf because it was close to her house. She hasn’t been to the other restaurants but would consider going if she was in the area.

Eau Claire now has four restaurants to support but both women say they are not competing against each other.

“We’re not really trying to compete,” Ochsner said. “I think that we all kind of have our own areas that we’re trying to compete in the Eau Claire area with.”

Weber said as a business you are always worried about competition, but there are plenty of customers for everyone.

The trend of frozen yogurt is becoming extremely popular. Ochsner thinks it’s because it’s so trendy and because it’s a healthier option than ice cream.

In the end, Weber isn’t afraid of competition because of their location. She views the competition as healthy and think it’s brought a lot of awareness to frozen yogurt.

“I don’t think there’s a fear (of competition) because it’s so fun,” Weber said. “It’s a fun treat. It’s a healthy treat. And that’s a trend that the whole nation is going towards. So we’re pretty excited about the upcoming year.”