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Davis, California

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Battle over frozen desserts leaves Cold Stone and Yogurt Shack out in the cold

Business recently froze for two local frozen dessert stores in Davis. This winter, the ice cream war left Cold Stone Creamery in North Davis and E Street’s Yogurt Shack in downtown Davis as causalities. The stores closed on Dec. 28 and Nov. 20, respectively.

There is not a scarcity of frozen dessert places in Davis. Cultivé, Yolo Berry, SugarPlum, Pinkberry, Davis Creamery, Icekrimski, Ben & Jerry’s, Baskin Robbin’s, Tutti Fruity Frozen Yogurt and other stores all serve cold desserts.

Former Yogurt Shack employee Marie Boys worked at the store from the time of its opening in September 2007 to its closing in November.

She does not think the opening of Pinkberry played a role in the Yogurt Shack’s closure. She said the store likely closed because the management did not try to be competitive with other shops, catering to the market with more deals to get customers in the door.

“I wasn’t surprised by the closure,” Boys said. “I was anticipating it. There are too many yogurt places in Davis. The fad died out a little bit and as the first yogurt place in, we were also the first yogurt place out.”

She also said the owner, Dave Francis, gave employees three days notice of the store’s closure by text message.

Francis could not be reached for comment.

Though Boys found a job as a server at Monticello Bistro on G Street, she was not pleased with how short notice employees were given of the closure.

“Six out of the eight employees were able to find jobs,” Boys said. “But the way we were informed of the closure offended us. It was abrupt and we weren’t told early enough in advance.”

Boys believes the reason for the owner’s reluctance to inform his employees was because he did not want word to spread.

Amy White, store manager of Cultivé on E Street, does blame Pinkberry and finds their entrance into Davis frustrating. She said Cultivé has seen a slight drop in business since Pinkberry opened, but not enough to push her business out.

“Pinkberry is our arch enemy,” White said. “They are the Walmart of frozen yogurt. This is another example of how a big corporate business comes in and pushes out small businesses.”

Cultivé has a history with Pinkberry. In 2008, the owners of Cultivé changed its name from “Swirl” after Pinkberry threatened to sue Cultivé. Pinkberry said the name was too close to the store’s trademark phrase “swirly goodness” and that the Swirl logo was too similar to the leaves used in Pinkberry’s logo.

White also said Pinkberry sent employees, wearing Pinkberry aprons, into Cultivé a little over a month ago to scope out their toppings and flavors.

“I think we’re next on their list,” White said. “I’m afraid they’re attempting to take over our business. The owners of Cultivé are locals from Davis who are just trying to make a living. There is enough business to go around for all of us, so I’m angry that Pinkberry is trying to push businesses out.”

Pinkberry assistant manager Saher Randhawa said the company is not trying to run other businesses out of town and that the management did not scope out Cultivé. She added that management does not have control over if their employees go into Cultivé and that her employees would pose no threat to Cultivé since they do not control flavor or topping choices.

Joy Cohan, director of the Downtown Business Association, said as is often common with new trends, there is always some settling out.

“[This is] what we’ve been experiencing throughout the entire city,” Cohan said. “Downtown still has a good selection of frozen yogurt and ice cream, despite recent closures. This doesn’t say anything negative about the economy, it’s just settling out.”

The property owners and Cold Stone were also unavailable for comment.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.


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