Photo by John F. Russell
Fro-yo employee Ashley Vaughn, left, and owner Katy Vaughn stand inside the new frozen yogurt store in downtown Steamboat Springs.
Steamboat Springs Katy and Brian Vaughn already owned a fine dining restaurant with one of the fastest-growing reputations in Steamboat Springs. So for their next trick, they went in a different direction and allowed their customers to take matters into their own spoons.
The result is Fro-yo, a self-serve frozen yogurt shop in a handsome brick kiosk at the corner of Fifth Street and Lincoln Avenue. In the early going (they opened June 29), one of the most popular flavors at fro-yo is sea salt caramel pretzel. But customers also can go the non-fat, no-sugar route. And toppings range from fresh fruit to gummy worms.
The couple own bistro c.v. just a block away. Owning a restaurant already involves demanding hours, so when the Vaughns looked to expand, they didn’t want to add more complexity.
“I like that it’s simple and fun,” Katy Vaughn said. “I told (landlord) Bruce Caplowe that if this kiosk ever opened up, I wanted to talk to him.”
At Fro-yo, the program couldn’t be any simpler:
■ Grab a cup.
■ Pick your flavor (and help yourself to portion you desire).
■ Choose your toppings.
■ Weigh the end result and pay the cashier.
No matter what you choose to place on top of your frozen yogurt, the end result will be charged at 50 cents per ounce. It’s a similar fee structure to what’s in place at a grocery store salad bar.
Brian Vaughn said he and his wife were very detailed in considering the food costs of the various toppings and settling on the amount they needed to charge to make Fro-yo work. From blueberries to candy, the toppings all cost what they weigh.
“This isn’t a new concept, but I wanted to make it have a different feel and unique to Steamboat,” Katy Vaughn said. “We’re open to suggestions from our customers on what they like.”
On any given day there are six flavors of frozen yogurt from Honey Hill Farms available at Fro-yo, but they are in a frequent rotation that brings new flavors to the shop. This week, a little more than 3 ounces of Tahitian vanilla would cost a customer less than $2 and 80 calories. The toppings, of course, would change both numbers. But the point is, the customer has control over how many calories and dollars they spend.
Soon, Brian Vaughn said, they expect to add 100 percent pro-biotic yogurt made from milk from local cows and produced by Yoki Bliss in Boulder.
Vaughn set out from the beginning to make sure that men, not just fathers in family groups, felt comfortable at Fro-yo. There’s a not-so-subtle reference to that goal to be found in a play on words designed into the frozen yogurt restaurant’s graphic logo that portrays the head and face of a man with a chin beard and an Afro hairstyle.
“We want everyone to feel comfortable here,” Vaughn said. “We’re catering to all types of people, from families to teens to adults.”
Located in the heart of a restaurant district that includes Mahogany Ridge Brewery and Grill, Mambo Italiano and Fifth Street Market in addition to bistro c.v., Fro-yo is dependent on foot traffic from passersby and diners coming out of nearby restaurants on a year-round basis.
“We’ll give it a shot and see how winter goes,” Brian Vaughn said.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com