Maybe you have already noticed it but there is a trend sweeping the nation dealing with frozen yogurt. What this trend entails is people going into these new yogurt shops and serving themselves. All you do is grab a container around the size you think is going to satisfy you and then you fill it with the yogurt of your choice. You then move onto the toppings and once again you serve yourself, pouring as much and as many of the toppings you want on your yogurt creation. You then go to the cashier and they weigh it for you. The price is usually based on the ounce. Obviously, the point of this whole system is to do away with fixed sizes/flavor choices/topping choices and let the customer have complete control over how much he/she wants to eat.
The first time I entered one of these shops was just this past summer in Las Vegas. While on the strip in the midst of a 100 degree day, I ducked into one of the hole-in-the-wall shops that was advertising “healthy” frozen yogurt. I saw the signs directing customers to serve themselves and thought it was a pretty cool concept. Even though the yogurt dispensaries in this sketchy shop were all leaking and the counter that held the bins for the toppings had just about as much of the toppings on it as the bins had inside, I decided to prepare myself a cup. I got enough yogurt to fill maybe a small cup at Baskin-Robbins and was charged over $8 for it…but it is Vegas, what do you expect? Well, I expected it to taste better.
So although my first experience with the self-serve yogurt craze did not go over too well, I could not help but get excited when Yo Waffle opened up here in Missoula a couple months ago. Yo Waffle took up residence in the heart of downtown, right in the middle of the bar district. Combining frozen yogurt and Belgian waffles, this place definitely had a unique concept that caught my eye.
Tonight was my first time trying Yo Waffle. Dan and I decided to get some ice cream after the Thursday night college football game ended. Right when we entered Yo Waffle I was relieved to find a clean, well-lit, inviting shop. It took ten seconds for us to walk through the doors before the owner was right in front of us, offering a warm greeting and an explanation on how the shop worked (same thing as Vegas…get as much as you like – yogurt, flavors, toppings, sauces – and then get it weighed and pay). However, the Vegas shop did not have waffles! The first option you have available to you are two waffle makers sitting on top of a table. Under the table is a refrigerator where the batter is. Unfortunately, this is the part of the self-serve experience that I did not care so much for and I will explain later. Anyway, Dan and I skipped that part.
We moved on and picked up our yogurt containers. They had a few different sized containers that you could choose from and then fill them with as much yogurt as you pleased. We each took a medium sized one. Next, you got to the frozen yogurt bar. There were five dispensaries with two flavors per dispensary, giving you a very decent selection of ten different frozen yogurts. Flavors included outrageous orange, strawberry kiwi, strawberry banana, pistachio, a coffee flavor, apple pie, and the traditional flavors. I opted for filling my container with half strawberry banana and half chocolate/vanilla swirl.
The frozen yogurt bar at Yo Waffle
After the selection of our frozen yogurt, we approached the toppings station. If you like variety, you will love Yo Waffle. They had pretty much every topping you could think of: Chocolate chips, sprinkles, cookie dough bites, animal cookies, fruity pebbles, peanuts, butterfinger, brownie bites, m&m’s, reeses, coconut, etc. etc. I put cheesecake bites and oreo cookies on mine. Finally, you get to top your creation off with your choice of sauce. Once again, they have all of your bases covered. I am a peanut butter lover, so I covered mine in a reeses peanut butter sauce.
We then went to pay. Once you approach the cashier, you place your container on a scale and it neatly converts the weight into a price right in front of your eyes. I might be off by a couple cents, but the price at Yo Waffle is $0.42 per ounce. Dan and I both made creations that cost around the $4.30 mark. Yes, we are slobs. We both filled our containers very generously and liberally applied our toppings so we got our money’s worth.
These are what Dan and I made!! (Dan on left, me on right)
I enjoyed my dessert. The strawberry kiwi yogurt was great, the chocolate/vanilla swirl was pretty basic. You might not think that cheesecake bites and peanut butter go well together but I loved it. As for Dan, he said he really enjoyed the coffee caramel flavor he got but was not as big of a fan of the apple pie flavor. That of course did not stop him from eating every single bite. We talked at length about what kind of combination we were going to get next time we come in and we even briefly entertained the idea of going through again that night but cooler heads prevailed.
Dan pigging out on his Yo Waffle creation
Overall, there are a lot of pros about Yo Waffle. The shop is clean and they have indoor and outdoor seating. The frozen yogurt quality is great. The variety of toppings and sauces is superb and the quality is fresh. I thought the price was very fair and they also have a loyal customers program which I appreciate. The owner was very nice and the other person who was working is a member of our Spirit Squad so the staffing is awesome! Monday through Thursday the shop is open until 11pm and on Friday and Saturday it is open until 12am so the hours are flexible.
Me enjoying my ice cream
The only major con I felt centered on the Belgian waffles. As it is with the yogurt and toppings, the waffle station is also self-serve. When I stay in hotels that have continental breakfasts that offer self-serve waffles, I stay away. I hate waiting in line for people to cook their waffles and I hate making them even more. It is messy, it is confusing, and it is impossible to get your waffle just right. I struggle with turning the machine over once one side is done and I worry about whether I am going to burn it or not. Making my own waffle just puts way too much stress on me that it is not worth it to attempt when I go into Yo Waffle. The sad thing is, I would have LOVED to have a waffle with my frozen yogurt. I bet it would have tasted like heaven. But I am not going to risk the embarrassment and time of making my own waffle as the whole shop looks on. The only other con I would point out is the diversity of the yogurt flavors. It is awesome that they have ten different flavors but I feel that the fruit flavors are way over represented. Aside from vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, and the coffee flavor, the remaining six are all fruit flavors. I would love to see flavors such as peanut butter, marshmallow, red velvet cake, or white chocolate macadamia. Then again, I bet they have rotating flavors and I just caught them on a day where they decided to feature more fruit flavors.
I had a great time at Yo Waffle and will definitely be going back. The concept is awesome, although I do have some concerns on whether it will catch on in Missoula. I sure hope it does though. Good luck to Yo Waffle and I hope all of you get a chance to try it, please be sure to get a waffle and tell me how they are. Don’t Blink.