The country’s malls once were full of frozen yogurt stands and TCBY was a household name. I don’t know how or why, but frozen yogurt fell out of favor as a retail business here. Sort of like how bagel chain shops just fell off the planet.
With the health benefits of low-calorie yogurt and active yogurt cultures, I was just thinking recently I wouldn’t mind seeing a few more shops beyond where I get my self-serve yogurt fix at Tacoma Mall’s Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt franchise (4502 S. Steele St., 253-476-2401, orangeleafyogurt.com).
And now I have a new sweet find – Gibson’s Frozen Yogurt Shoppe, which moved into a small storefront in the Stadium District. It opened Feb. 14 on North Tacoma Avenue (the back door faces the Stadium Thriftway parking lot).
Thirty toppings, eight yogurt flavors, self service. Yogurt weighing in at a caloric investment of 80-100 calories per 4-ounce service? Gibson’s, I like you.
Yogurt at Gibson’s is self-serve. Head to the back of the shop where you start with a cup and eight frozen yogurt choices. Duo flavors are available as swirls. The shop has a liberal free taste policy and you’ll want to partake – the sweetness levels of the yogurt can greatly vary. Small paper cups are located just above the yogurt dishes. The eight flavors change about every week, sometimes every two.
On my visit, the tart yogurt was less sugary, chocolate was rich, banana had just the right of sweetness and pure banana flavor (no artificial flavors, a counter worker told me).
Toppings run the full gamut, but here is something I really appreciated: real, fresh fruit for a topping.
I loaded up on fresh blueberries, blackberries and sliced strawberries to top my banana frozen yogurt. I also saw mangoes and kiwi.
My yogurt with fresh fruit cost about $5, but you can pay half that for a small portion. Yogurt and toppings cost 43 cents an ounce, although irritatingly on my visit, there was no sign advertising the price (they’re working on a sign, and may already have one by now).
I spotted all kinds of toppings that will add plenty of fat and calories to your yogurt – Captain Crunch cereal, granola, Fruity Pebbles cereal, mini marshmallows, peanut butter cups. And hot fudge and caramel, too. It can be as low or high fat/calorie as you like, it seems.
The yogurt is YoCream, a Portland produced product. It adds active and live cultures to the yogurt after it’s pasteurized. It’s a pretty healthy dessert indulgence – most yogurts run about 100 calories for four ounces, although some come in at 80 calories.
The shop is owned by husband-wife team Jim Gibson and Judy Jones. They started the shop after Gibson, who constructs cell phone towers, was temporarily working in California and discovered yogurt shops aplenty. “He got addicted to frozen yogurt,” said Jones when I talked to her by phone earlier this week. The yogurt shops he found in California were full of kids.
Jones sunk her retirement funds from a career as a CPA into the shop. They leased the space in September, fitted the storefront with sinks and drains and set up shop.
If you stop by, Jones has some advice for creating your own yogurt concoction. Give these three recipes a try:
Sweet peach: For yogurts, swirl together the pecan praline and Georgia peach yogurts. For toppings, add candied pecans and a drizzle of caramel.
The Elvis: Swirl together the island banana and peanut butter yogurts. Add a few slices of banana on top and chocolate syrup.
Strawberry shortcake: Swirl together the cookies and cream and strawberry banana yogurts. Top it with fresh, sliced strawberries and whipped cream.
Gibson’s Frozen Yogurt Shoppe
Where: 8 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma
Hours: 10:30 a.m.- 10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays.