Spoon Me a healthy, green yogurt shop

Posted by Alexandra Watkins on September 17, 2008

Spoon Me franchise owner Carolee Millet, left, and Spoon Me founder and CEO Ryan Combe inside the new Sandy location. The interior is eco-friendly and the yogurt had no artificial ingredients.

Spoon Me a healthy, green yogurt shop
By Lesley Mitchell
The Salt Lake Tribune09/16/2008
SANDY, UTAH – You won’t find the typical vanilla, chocolate or strawberry flavors at the Spoon Me frozen yogurt shop.

In their places are more mysterious flavors – acai (berry from Brazil), green tea or “natural.”
The Utah-based chain, with locations in Sandy, downtown Salt Lake City, Provo and St. George, is among a number of companies popping up nationwide that aim to provide a hip alternative to the frozen yogurt-shop concept that soared in the ’80s, only to fizzle somewhat in recent years.
“There’s definitely a growing trend toward a healthier dessert product,” said Spoon Me co-founder Ryan Combe.
Aside from Spoon Me, there are other stores with trendy frozen yogurt concepts opening up, including Red Mango, which has three Utah locations. Spoon Me, founded by Utah natives Combe and David Jaynes, is trying to set itself apart from competitors in a number of ways.
“I wanted to create something more marketable” than the other offerings, Combe said. “And I wanted something more responsible” in terms of the environment and community.
The chain uses as many environmentally friendly products as possible in its stores, from spoons made out of corn starch to highly biodegradable cups to hold the yogurt. Virtually everything that goes into the stores, from the paint and light fixtures to the toilets in the restrooms, are designed to be easy on theenvironment.

Although Combe, 26, said he hasn’t spent a lot of time working in the restaurant industry, he does have the pedigree: He said his uncle was involved in the Arctic Circle hamburger chain and his cousins run the Warrens and Dylan’s fast-food chains in Utah.
But he’s also trying something vastly different, especially for conservative Utah. Marketing phrases such as “Go on, Spoon Me. You know you want it,” and “If you love me, spoon me,” say it all.
Combe said he was living in California “surfing a lot” when he and Jaynes, 32, then a vice president for Lehman Brothers in California, decided to become entrepreneurs.
The pair, with a third partner, Utah orthopedic surgeon Wayne Mortensen, opened the first Spoon Me in downtown Salt Lake City in October. The Sandy location, the first franchise and one owned by Combe’s aunt, Carolee Millet, opened in June.
The Provo location, which is corporate owned, opened its doors in July, with a store owned by another franchisee opening in St. George at the end of August. Spoon Me’s yogurt product is different enough to put off some fans of the traditional sugar-laden varieties of the past. Its three varieties are a bit tart and for the uninitiated may seem a bit more like sorbet than frozen yogurt.
But there is apparently plenty of demand for the concept. Existing stores are doing well, Combe said, and franchisees are planning several additional locations.
The next location, this one also company owned, is scheduled to open at the end of the month on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe. Additional locations, all franchises, are planned for Ogden, Orem and American Fork, as well as Austin, Texas, and Las Vegas.
Spoon Me stocks the three flavors of frozen yogurt and numerous toppings of fruit or nuts for health-conscious customers, and Fruit Pebbles, Nilla Wafers and Oreo toppings for those who want more sinful alternatives.
Prices range from $2.50 for the smallest size of “Natural” yogurt without a topping to $6.75 for the largest Green Tea or Acai-flavored cup with three toppings.
On a recent weekday afternoon, south valley resident Angie Davidson brought her mother, in town from Seattle, in for her first taste of Spoon Me.
Davidson said she has been in the shop a few times since it’s opened.
“I told her she just had to come taste this,” Angie Davidson said.
Her mother, Bobbie Zavala, gave it a thumbs up. “It’s a totally different taste. It’s very, very good.”

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