A cold war brews on High Street

Froyo World has excited the Yale community. “I’ve been waiting for this place all summer,” David Mesham ’11 said.
Froyo World has excited the Yale community. “I’ve been waiting for this place all summer,” David Mesham ’11 said. Photo by Jane Long.

On its grand opening Monday, Froyo World attracted about 1,350 customers to its High Street location. The next day, The Liberry, a two-year-old New Haven frozen yogurt store just across the street, brought in about six.

The reasonable prices, six yogurt flavors and 45 different toppings in a self-serve lounge and free T-shirts at Froyo World have attracted many students.
The reasonable prices, six yogurt flavors and 45 different toppings in a self-serve lounge and free T-shirts at Froyo World have attracted many students.

As Froyo World, which says it is Connecticut’s first self-serve frozen yogurt lounge, continues to thrive after its Aug. 5 soft opening, The Liberry has started to bleed customers. Peeyada Boon, who works at The Liberry, said the store has maintained only 10 percent of its customers since Froyo World’s opening. Although Boon said she did not know what Liberry’s owner, Robert Klinger, will do with the business, Klinger told the New Haven Independent last week that he will close within the next two weeks in order to remodel.

Meanwhile, Susan Chung, one of the co-owners of Froyo World, said her store has been “unexpectedly successful.” At the grand opening, the owners of Froyo World gave away 500T-shirts to customers, and although the opening ceremony was slated to begin at 11 a.m., people started lining up outside the store 30 minutes beforehand.

David Mesham ’11, who lives down the street from Froyo World, was the first person in line on Monday.

“I’ve been waiting for this place all summer,” he said.

Behind him, Kaylee Weil ’12 chimed: “FreeT-shirt and frozen yogurt, what could be better?”

But as the heat outside increased, so did the patrons’ impatience. One girl yelled out, “It’s 11:05 already!”

Customers filed into the store at around 11:30 a.m. to make fro-yo creations, choosing from six yogurt flavors and 45 different toppings, such as strawberries and mochi. The cups were weighed on a scale and priced by weight, at 49 cents an ounce.

“Pricing is very reasonable,” said Jennifer McTiernan ’99, a co-founder of the local food nonprofit CitySeed, who brought her two children to the store. “You can really customize your own serving size.”

But while Froyo World has attracted many customers, The Liberry has suffered. Maddie Oliver ’13, for example, said she had never had fro-yo at The Liberry but wanted to try some atFroyo World. She said she has now gone there about three times.

“I’ve never been to Liberry,” McTiernan added. “I’ve walked by it and never have been compelled to go in there.”

In contrast, McTiernan said she was attracted to the bright-colored design of Froyo World.

Still, Zoe Egelman ’13 said she likes The Liberry better than Froyo World because she prefers set yogurt sizes to Froyo World’s pay-by-weight system.

As The Liberry continues to lose customers, Froyo World owners are figuring out more ways for patrons to “indulge” themselves, including plans to sell waffles in the winter.

Froyo World co-owner Dennis Bok acknowledged that he and his fellow owners knew that The Liberry was on the other side of the street when they signed a lease with University Properties, which manages Yale’s commercial lots. Regardless, Chung, of Froyo World, said the new store was a “push” for Klinger.

“We motivated him even more to change his store,” she said.

Klinger, who also owns S’Wings on Crown Street, told the Independent that Liberry was “barely making it” and that he had always “thought about changing it,” even before Froyo World moved in.

Froyo World was inspired by Chung’s family fro-yo business in San Francisco, co-owner William Bok said. He added that his family will be opening two more stores in Connecticut in 2011.

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