Saturday, June 28, 2008

First Look: Mr. Yogato

"Are you a fan of Mr. Yogato?" yelled Steve Davis, Mr. Yogato's so-called "Man of Yogurt" as I took the picture below.

I didn't know how to answer that. How can you be a fan of a restaurant that still isn't open? So I responded with the only reply that came to mind: "We'll see in a few minutes."

A few minutes later, the doors to Mr. Yogato, DC's newest, and second major frozen yogurt shop opened, and the customers came flooding in.

Immediately Mr. Yogato, the brainchild of a set of Georgetown business school students, will draw comparisons to TangySweet, its primary competitor and Dupont neighbor.

It's ironic that Yogato is run by grad students, because it feels a lot more like a undergrad kegger as opposed to TangySweet's grad student martini happy hour feel. Mr. Yogato's space feels cramped and chaotic by comparison, something that could be solved with signs showing people where to order and where to get their yogurt.

Going to Mr. Yogato isn't just about getting a cup of yogurt and some toppings, the emphasis is just as much on the fun as it is on the product. There are a number of "rules", basically fun ways to get a discount on your yogurt - today you could have gotten a $1 off your order if you did so in a Scottish accent. I declined and just paid the extra buck. You can also get a flavor named after you if you order something for thirty consecutive days, or get a discount if you suggest a topping or flavor that's adopted.

If you're going to Mr. Yogato expecting the same product as TangySweet, you'll be sadly mistaken, or pleasantly surprised, all depending on your views on TangySweet.

If you like and are expecting the tangy-tartness of TangySweet, you won't get it. Mr. Yogato's product is milder, almost to a fault. With flavors like Mango, Mojito, and "original soft" (a flavor akin to all the TCBY you ate as a kid), there's a lot of variety here, but sadly those flavors didn't exactly all come out as strong as they should have. Even the topping options are plentiful. I got mochi, strawberries and blueberries. I was glad to see mochi, something Apples turned me onto, on the menu - I've got a feeling it'll be a regular topping of mine when I visit.

Agatha, my yogurt partner for the day, got granola, blackberries and raspberries. She was a little disappointed that they only fit four blackberries on the yogurt (and pointed out that much like TangySweet, she had an air pocket in her yogurt), but seemed to like what she got (a little original soft) overall.

Like any other startup, Mr. Yogato will undergo some growing pains. The flavors need to be distinguished further, and there needs to be some greater order to the flow of traffic through the restaurant.

So to answer Steve's question - yes, I'm a fan of Mr. Yogato. Right now I don't think they're quite where TangySweet is when it comes to their product or their operation, but I think this team has the potential to do very well for itself, and I look forward to watching them grow in the weeks and months ahead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd say they were less like a freshman kegger and more like a goofy freshman orientation gimmick. Apparently my Scottish accent sounds too much like the stereotypical pirate? I guess I get my vulgarized British accents mixed up.