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Bubbling yogurt

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When I was young, yogurt was yoghurt and considered as kind of an extremist health food, like wheat germ. In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, frozen yogurt seemed to be very popular and seemed, for a time, more popular than ice cream. In the 1990s, it dropped off considerably. I can think of two yogurt chains that disappeared from Tulsa entirely; I Love Yogurt was one.

Frozen yogurt is back with a vengeance. This time, it’s self-serve yogurt, apparently based on success stories in California and New York City. We have four new self-serve yogurt stores within striking distance of my home, and more are coming. The paper this morning indicated that it’s practically a Tulsa rave; there are at least five brands and stores opening everywhere at a rapid clip.

Some will survive through the hot Tulsa summer, but will they survive for the long haul? I doubt it. Anything can bubble, even yogurt stores. The attraction is a low startup cost. One franchise operator only charges a licensing fee of $5,000 and 2.5% in annual royalties. Where it might cost $1 million to open a restaurant, one might do a yogurt store for $100,000.

My advice? Short yogurt in Tulsa. I noted in Kansas City that one company had already taken over another’s stores. The outlook for anything bubbling — I call such opportunities bubblicious — is dim. However, people clearly like serving themselves yogurt better than waiting in line for a sales clerk to do so — that may be a harbinger of things to come with other types of food.

Have a fantastic week. Do good work.

Read more blog entries from Richard Hoe.