Not your average yogurt

By: Natalie Shultz

Eating frozen yogurt every day may seem like a fool-proof way to sabotage any diet. Charlie Baker disagrees.

Baker, 59, was introduced to Cali Yogurt more than two months ago after receiving a sample while working out at a gym near his home in South Tampa. It was love at first bite for Baker, and he says he has been hooked ever since.

“I come here once a day because it’s good for you. It’s better than ice cream and it always fulfills my sweet tooth,” Baker said. “It’s one of the best places we’ve discovered here.”

Cali Yogurt opened for business on April 19 this year in Soho Plaza located at 2303 West Morrison Ave. in South Tampa. Owner Phillip Park says the chain originated in Torrance, California, and it is the first of its kind in Florida. Park plans to open a second store in Clairmont, located near Orlando, and a potential third to open next year is in the works for the Brandon Town Center.

Park moved to the U.S. from Seoul, Korea in 1993. Although he currently lives in Orlando, he stays in Tampa three to four days each week because he says he enjoys both the area and the people surrounding the store.

“It is a good location. I really like the South Tampa area,” Park said. “It is trendy and the people are healthy here.”

Cali Yogurt, along with similar products such as Pinkberry (www.pinkberry.com), a recent sensation in L.A. and New York City, is different from the typical preservative-packed, sugary frozen yogurts. It is all natural and has a comparable taste to plain Greek-style yogurt.

Cali Yogurt’s menu offers two flavors, plain and green tea, both of which are fat free, low in calories, low in sugar, low in carbohydrates, and contain protein, vitamins and minerals. Park says the plain frozen yogurt is by far the favorite of the majority of his customers.

Tiffany Berkhan, 17, has worked as an associate at Cali Yogurt for nearly two months, and gives her vote to the green tea flavor.

“I like the green tea better than the plain, but I don’t like any toppings on it,” Berkhan said.

There are toppings available to satisfy the sweet tooth, including fresh fruits like banana, kiwi, blueberry, pineapple, mango, watermelon, raspberry and blackberry, as well as sweets like dark and white chocolate, candy pieces, organic granola, nuts, cookies, coconut and cereals.

Baker, who ordered the plain flavor with blueberries today, says he enjoys both flavors. Only having the option of two flavors is not a problem for him, he says, as long as he can have fruit on top.

“I think two flavors is enough,” Baker said. “I really like the flavor of the yogurt and the texture. And I always get fruit, especially blueberries or strawberries.”

Park says the concept for this type of yogurt originally came from Korea and was brought to California where he discovered it for himself and wanted to put his own spin on it.

“My philosophy is serving the best food at all times,” Park said. “I use the best quality foods, the best quality fruits and the best quality yogurts. I’ve found my concept with this yogurt to be simple and healthy.”

“Simple” also seems to be the concept for Cali Yogurt’s interior: a few pieces of retro-chic red leather furniture with silver metal and light wood accent pieces pop against the clean white lines of the walls and fixtures. The large windows at the storefront allow natural light to pour in, giving the small space a bright and airy glow.

Cali Yogurt is open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Frozen yogurt prices range from $2.00 to $5.50 and toppings from $0.95 for one and $1.45 for up to three. The store also caters and delivers within three miles for minimum orders of $10.

“I tell everybody about it [Cali Yogurt],” Baker said. “I can’t say enough good things about it, except that they should be open on Sundays.”

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2 Responses to “Not your average yogurt”

  1. Aaron Says:

    I love yogurt, and I drink green tea everyday. I am going to have to go to this place. The love at first bite was a nice touch. At first, I was wondering what makes this newsworthy. Then you said, “it is the first of its kind in Florida.”

  2. usfadvancedreporting Says:

    I wasn’t really pulled in by this story. I think its interesting, but I feel like there have been so many stories on these new healthy places/ things to eat. I almost feel like its played out already.

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