If Newport Avenue is feeling a little more congested, you can blame the yogurt, or more accurately the yogurt lovers who've been flocking to Cuppa Yo, a new self-serve frozen yogurt shop across the street from Sunnyside Sports, since early June.
Cuppa Yo's formula for success lies in its slogan: Pour it. Top it. Weigh it. As you walk into the brightly decorated shop, you pick up a paper cup and choose from eight varieties of frozen yogurt flavors. You control how much you pour and how many different flavors you want. Flavors change weekly. On the day I went, the selection included Dulche de Leche (Caramel), Cappuccino, Orange Sorbet, Chocolate, Vanilla and Reese's Peanut Butter. (I went before an additional machine with two other flavors was added.)
You then choose from a plethora of toppings. You can go healthy on these or totally sinful. If you are feeling pious, there are several different kinds of fresh fruit, granola, nuts and coconut. If you're feeling indulgent, you will have no problem finding something to satisfy your craving. There are candy bars - Snickers, Butterfinger, Rolos, Kit Kats and more. There is cereal - Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Trix and others. And there are loads of other sweets - Gummy Bears, Skittles, Mike & Ikes, chocolate chips and flavored syrups. Once you've finished piling it on, you weigh your cup at the register. Everything is 40 cents an ounce. The average Cuppa Yo serving costs $3-4, according to part-owner Matt Gilstrap.
Matt and his wife, Stephanie, partnered with another couple, Melissa and Keith Clayton, to open the business. Stephanie and Melissa are sisters and grew up in Redmond, along with Keith. Matt is originally from Eugene and has ten years of managerial experience in restaurants. The Claytons witnessed the success of self-serve frozen yogurt shops in Southern California while living there for several years and were inspired to bring the concept to their birthplace.
The other part of Cuppa Yo's appeal is the idea that frozen yogurt, minus the sweets, is good for you. All of the frozen yogurt flavors, which Cuppa Yo gets from Portland-based distributor YoCream International, are either low-fat or non-fat. A no-sugar-added yogurt is also always available. The live cultures in the frozen treat, like its non-frozen counterpart, regulate digestion and have the potential to boost the immune system.
The food connoisseur in me can't help but cringe at the additives like guar gum and maltodextrin contained in the list of frozen yogurt ingredients, the same not-so-natural items that you would find in most conventional grocery store ice cream. I recently discovered a frozen yogurt shop in San Francisco that has a similar business model but, uses fresh, organic yogurts that are made in the artisanal European tradition.
Regardless, Bend obviously loves Cuppa Yo. And with such a large assortment of goodies and flavors to please every palate, it's no wonder. Kids and adults alike were clamoring to load up their cups and then enjoy the treat in Cuppa Yo's indoor and outdoor seating. Quarts of the frozen yogurt are also available, sometimes at a discount if they are switching out flavors and want to unload it quickly.
The customer service is top notch, too. I realized I forgot my wallet once I got up to the register. Upon my return, the cashier retrieved my cup from a freezer in the back. I was very appreciative, particularly on such a steamy summer night.
Cuppa Yo's Facebook page has almost 1,900 fans, which is no small feat for a small business in Bend, let alone a new one. "We have customers who come in every day," says owner Stephanie Gilstrap.
937 NW Newport Ave Ste 110
11am-10pm, Sun-Thurs; 11 am-midnight, Fri-Sat. (541) 306-6993