EUGENE, Ore. -- Near Valley River Center, restaurant owner Jim West is saying "adios" to Mucho Gusto and hello to fro yo.
“In the back corner there will be the six machines dispensing 12 different flavors,” said West overlooking the crowded Mucho Gusto dining room.
Although the Mucho Gusto restaurant at Valley River is a lunch-time hotspot, West is hoping it will grow into a dessert destination when it becomes a frozen yogurt shop called Yo My My.
West said he chose to close the VRC location not only because there is another Mucho Gusto at Oakway Mall: the frozen yogurt business is booming.
“If you look at the top 50 fastest growing food services chains in America last year, number one: yogurt, number two: yogurt, number four: yogurt,” said West. “This time [frozen yogurt] is back with vengeance. It’s better than ever.”
The frozen yogurt industry first made a splash in the 1990s with shops like TCBY providing an alternative to ice cream.
The frozen treat is hot again. Since 2006, frozen yogurt sales have jumped 12 percent and are expected to rise from $1.7 to $2.7 billion dollars within the next five years.
“It’s a premium product for what was going on in the 1990s,” said Extreme Yogurt’s Jonathan Humphreys. “People are able to create their own masterpieces. They can come in 100 times and have 100 different creations.”
Humphreys said Extreme Yogurt is an example of how customers can take their tasty delights into their own hands and have some fun mixing and matching 101 toppings.
Jim West said that designing your own food is "eatertainment" – having fun by playing with your food.
Several local business owners are taking notice of what they call a trend, and while many cite the health benefits and creativity associated with self-serve frozen yogurt, Vanilla Jill’s co-owner Tim Stevens said there’s a simpler reason why the idea has taken hold of so many.
“It’s just fun and pretty to look at,” said Stevens. “A big bowl of yogurt, strawberries and chocolate – it's beautiful.”