“Keep your eyes peeled for froyo on-the-go around West Michigan this summer.
Two local self-serve frozen yogurt businesses are launching mobile operations this year, adding a twist to the new food service flavor in the Grand Rapids area.
This weekend at a one-year anniversary event, Frozen Yogurt Inspirations, 7589 Cottonwood Drive in Jenison, unveiled its new 33-foot “FYI on the Fly” truck, which will serve 8 flavors of self-serve frozen yogurt out of a converted Pepsi delivery semi-truck.
Also in the works: A mobile unit for Spoonlickers, an Ada-based chain that debuted last year and already opened its third area location in January.
The mobile units augment a mini bloom in self-serve frozen yogurt shops around the area. So far in the last year, seven shops doing self-serve have opened around Grand Rapids — three locations for Spoonlickers (Ada, Eastown and Knapp’s Corner), two for Sweet Yo’s (downtown Grand Rapids, Gaslight Village), one location for FYI in Jenison and a franchise location of Bloop in Kentwood.
According to The Street via market research firm IBISWorld, self-serve models account for nearly 40 percent of the nationwide frozen yogurt market, which topped $760 million in sales last year.
At self-serve frozen yogurt shops, customers are charged by weight of purchase. Combining the business model with the mobile food trend seems like a win, say store owners.
“Food trucks are an up-and-coming thing,” said Steve VanKoevering, who opened FYI with his wife, Peg, in April 2012.
VanKoevering said the mobile operation holds a 30,000-watt generator and 300 gallons of water, and features a 6-foot cold bar with a choice of 8 yogurt flavors and about 50 topping choices.
The vehicle is a “big investment,” said VanKoevering, a truck driver by trade. The former Pepsi delivery truck has undergone retrofitting for more than a month.
“My theory has always been ‘go big or go home,’” he said.
The FYI truck already has events booked, and VanKoevering is hoping the glut of summer festivals around West Michigan and beyond can keep the truck busy.
SpoonlickersEastown.jpgSpoonlickers is now open at 1551 Wealthy in Eastown. It is one of nearly a dozen businesses that have opened in Eastown in the past 12 months.Courtesy photo
Dave Darling, co-owner of Spoonlickers, said the mobile unit’s first event is scheduled for May 7, and the operation has been invited to this fall’s ArtPrize, as well as the Grand Rapids Triathlon on June 9.
Spoonlickers’ mobile unit grew out of demand for catered events, said Darling. Privately-booked events will account for most of its schedule.
“”The fact that this is in a truck is just how we get (the product) from point A to point B.””
The Spoonlickers unit is a 17-foot trailer that will hold machines dispensing six flavors, with more than a dozen topping choices. Darling said Spoonlickers specializes in yogurt with no chemical additives and bakes or makes nearly all of its toppings in store.
Darling said the launch of three stores in rapid succession was planned. “”We wanted to be sure that we were stable and strong enough in terms of presence and reach that we wouldn’t be lost in the shuffle.””
The idea is to ensure the chain is stable before considering any further expansion.
“”The catering and mobile business has already taken on a life of its own,”” he said. http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2013/04/froyo_trucks.html”