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Chapel Street Goes Pink(berry)

by Paul Bass | Aug 13, 2013 8:20 am

(14) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Arts & Culture, Dining, Business/ Economic Development, Food, Downtown

Paul Bass Photo A powerhouse dessert chain is preparing to move into a former jewelry shop on Chapel Street—bringing to five the number of frozen-yogurt outlets within walking distance of the Green.

Can New Haven support them all? We’re about to find out.

The latest entrant into the torrid downtown frozen-yogurt market is Santa Monica-based Pinkberry, which has opened franchises worldwide amid the latest boom for the popular dessert. By Oct. 1, Pinkberry plans to open up in the 2,300-square-foot former Savitt Jewelers space (pictured) tucked between the Panera and Starbucks outlets by the corner of Chapel and High, according to landlord John Wareck.

Contractors hired by Wareck’s company, Chapel Investment LLC, have been busy transforming the space to meet the deadline. The pictured worker, who declined to give his name, was cutting flex-duct as part of the work Monday.

Once it is ensconced on Chapel Street, Pinkberry will compete with the popular Froyo World just steps around the corner on High Street and two blocks from a new Polar Delight outlet across from the Green on Chapel near Temple. Other competitors include Flavors, next to Toad’s Place on York Street, and Go Greenly on Whitney Avenue.

“It’s just a fad. That’s all. At least two out of the five will be out of business a year from now,” customer John Deaton (pictured with fellow customer Nilda Torres) predicted while enjoying a mid-afternoon frozen yogurt at Polar Delight Monday afternoon. “They’re all pretty much similar.”

Not so, insisted Wareck: “Pinkberry is a unique product. Pinkberry is the best frozen yogurt I’ve ever tasted.”

Around the corner at Froyo World, cashier Yarelis Canalis didn’t sound worried about the competition. Froyo World already survived a smaller version of the yogurt wars three years ago; it put a customer across the street out of business. “Our customers are pretty loyal, so I don’t think there’ll be a problem,” Canales said. “We were the first. We have people come in three times a day.”

“It’s going to be interesting” to watch the shake-out in the frozen-yogurt marketplace, remarked “store associate” Elka Medina, who’s pictured serving customer Jasree Peralta at Flavors on York Street. Medina predicted that her outlet’s location squarely in the Yale/Broadway-York shopping district protects it from the competition in other parts of downtown.

Asked about the secret behind the frozen-yogurt craze, customer Peralta, a Southern Connecticut State University student majoring in communications, considered the cup in her hand. “We make ourselves think it’s healthy—then put all kinds of crap on it anyway,” she said. Yogurt just sounds more healthful than ice cream. She served herself coconut and mango—i.e., “fruit”—flavored yogurt. She topped it with some watermelon. Then she added the marshmallow and fruit-colored candy toppings. She and Medina agreed that the self-serve bar is a major selling point at the city’s frozen yogurt spots.

It won’t be at Pinkberry: The company doesn’t offer do-it-yourself topping bars. “You don’t get near the machines or the toppings. The do it for you, like at Ashley’s,” Wareck noted.

Wareck was asked about the emergence of chains along Chapel Street downtown, including the Panera-Pinkberry-Starbucks troika replacing Savitt Jewelers and the former News Haven.

New Haven has room for both locally owned outlets and the chains, Wareck argued. Especially the Chapel/High area, which he said has seen a jump in street traffic since the Yale Art Gallery’s nationally celebrated renovation and expansion.

“There has to be a balance,” Wareck said. “The market demands Starbucks now. The market wants Panera. There are over 1,700 Paneras. People are looking for it now.”

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posted by: Fairhavener on August 13, 2013  8:41am

Never thought I’d be saying this about a money hungry real estate developer but, Wareck is right, there has to be balance, and as of today if you make the choice to support local folks there is:


Willoughby’s (on York) instead of Starbucks

Ashley’s Ice Cream (prob sells frozen yogurt too) instead of any of the giant frozen dessert chains.

Burrito carts (on York) instead of Chipotle

Louis Lunch/Prime 16 for burgers instead of Shake Shack

Atticus/Booktrader for lunch (on Chapel) instead of Panera

So long as we have this choice than it is great. However, I have a feeling that owners of real estate in downtown will not care about keeping this in balance, and why would they—the giant chains pay more generally and can sign on to longer leases generally. It is up to New Havenites to ensure this balance remains.

posted by: shadesofzero on August 13, 2013  9:03am

I don’t know, New Haven somehow manages to support an impressive amount of Irish pubs (Liffey’s, Christy’s, O’Toole’s, Kelly’s, and Sullivan’s).  Stranger things have happened.

posted by: Curious on August 13, 2013  10:10am

@ Fairhavener,

It’s the incoming/outgoing Yale foot traffic that will boost the chains and hurt the locals.  I literally just overheard some undergrads on Chapel this morning talking about where to get breakfast…they opted for Panera over Atticus because “I don’t know what that place is…” (about the latter.)  Maybe they will branch out during their stay in Yale, but a lot of them overwhelmingly gravitate to the names they know from chains that run in their home towns.

@ Josh Levinson,

Sullivan’s is out of business, just a month or two ago they closed their doors for good.  That Irish joint on Temple closed and is now Wicked Wolf.

posted by: Stylo on August 13, 2013  10:29am

I actually think they will all do fine, unless the public starts hating frozen yogurt. Fads are usually something fashionable and trendy. The frozen yogurt thing is just a reflection of giving people what they want. The self-serve concept just works.

That said, Pinkberry isn’t even in the same league as the others. The others all do the same thing, with slightly different decor. Pinkberry is a bit more premium, has more cachet as a brand, and will probably outlive all of them.

Can New Haven sustain ANOTHER after Pinkberry? Probably not, but I see these all serving distinct areas of downtown without conflict. Pinkberry might be close to Froyoworld, but it’s a totally different concept.

I don’t mind a mix of chains and independent stores, so as long as the chains don’t suck all the business out. The hope is to get more people downtown and achieve equilibrium. It’s possible. It’s certainly more likely to have people come downtown if storefronts are full and good crowds are frequenting downtown. It’s when blocks become empty and creepy that crime happens and people feel uncomfortable.

posted by: robn on August 13, 2013  10:53am

They said the market for Indian restaurants was saturated too.

posted by: Curious on August 13, 2013  11:06am

Wicked Wolf was the Irish pub that closed, now it’s The Russian Lady.  My bad.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on August 13, 2013  11:21am

This one of the issues I have being talking with some of candidates to be mayor. This is why is so important the support to our low income communities get a real support for small local business. That means to be open in OUR neighborhoods this will force to improve the public safety and quality of life. The good impact will help to survive the first few years of a new business and attract customer form different areas.

New Haven urgently need smart strategies planed to stimulate the economy with a variety of services need. Since Dow-town’s ridicules high rents for local small businesses is out of reality for them to make enough profit to keep the doors open. The need to invest in to our neighborhood should be a priority.

These little places “pop -up” as they see the temporary success of something new and they just want a piece of the pie by competing with lower prices until all of them are force to close when the high demand of the “new product is going down. Of course the Realtor don’t care who’s rented as long they sing the contract for 1 to 5 years that will ensure their rent it’s going to being paid. That is their business.

This problems is present on Gran Avenue. Take a drive trout and count how many hair-dresses you see there?

posted by: alex on August 13, 2013  11:48am

Yogurt bubble!

posted by: HhE on August 13, 2013  1:18pm

Why anyone would buy a frozen treat from someone other than Ashley’s is beyond my keen.

posted by: CBartlett-Josie on August 13, 2013  3:33pm

Just had to repost: BUY LOCAL, SUPPORT YOUR LOCALLY OWNED STORES

Thank you posted by: Fairhavener on August 13, 2013 8:41am

Never thought I’d be saying this about a money hungry real estate developer but, Wareck is right, there has to be balance, and as of today if you make the choice to support local folks there is:


Willoughby’s (on York) instead of Starbucks

Ashley’s Ice Cream (prob sells frozen yogurt too) instead of any of the giant frozen dessert chains.

Burrito carts (on York) instead of Chipotle

Louis Lunch/Prime 16 for burgers instead of Shake Shack

Atticus/Booktrader for lunch (on Chapel) instead of Panera

So long as we have this choice than it is great. However, I have a feeling that owners of real estate in downtown will not care about keeping this in balance, and why would they—the giant chains pay more generally and can sign on to longer leases generally. It is up to New Havenites to ensure this balance remains.

posted by: CBartlett-Josie on August 13, 2013  3:40pm

Thank you Fairhavner: SUPPORT LOCAL BUY LOCAL

“posted by: Fairhavener on August 13, 2013 8:41am

Never thought I’d be saying this about a money hungry real estate developer but, Wareck is right, there has to be balance, and as of today if you make the choice to support local folks there is:


Willoughby’s (on York) instead of Starbucks

Ashley’s Ice Cream (prob sells frozen yogurt too) instead of any of the giant frozen dessert chains.

Burrito carts (on York) instead of Chipotle

Louis Lunch/Prime 16 for burgers instead of Shake Shack

Atticus/Booktrader for lunch (on Chapel) instead of Panera

So long as we have this choice than it is great. However, I have a feeling that owners of real estate in downtown will not care about keeping this in balance, and why would they—the giant chains pay more generally and can sign on to longer leases generally. It is up to New Havenites to ensure this balance remains.”

posted by: David S Baker on August 13, 2013  4:00pm

@ Fairhavener -  Agree, but we also we do it to ourselves with the people we elect.  The corporations and mondo chains are the only ones who can finance the small army necessary to navigate the sea of red tape.  The fees, permits, and other unchecked uber-regulation in this smurf blue town combined with the annual ‘college town’ summer doldrums are a deadly combination for independent businesses in that zone.  Franchises have the finances, litigators, and redundancy to buffer those types of hits.  Again, I agree this is bad, but I’m hesitant to entirely blame the landlord.  Landlords of desirable properties will always charge what they can get and will always pick a reliable known client over an unknown if they are given the choice. We should have such a problem in the residential world!  Sadly this is bad for diversity, much like voting a supermajority into both wings of local government.  But I digress.

posted by: A Contrarian on August 13, 2013  4:01pm

Ashley vs. Pinkberry

Many museum visitors will lunch at Atticus but not walk over to Broadway.

posted by: Ron Waverley on August 13, 2013  8:07pm

This really is deja vu, think back to the days of TCBY, ICBY, Malibu Magic, Diet Swirl and God knows how many other defunct yogurt chains from the 80’s. Now instead of two machines per store you have 6 to 8 at almost 20 grand per, that’s a lot of bucks to lay out and a lot of equipment to keep clean.

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