August 19, 2018 | ° F

New shop serves up healthy dessert options

Photo by Dan Bracaglia |

Employee Luis Madrigal, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, demonstrates Fruity Yogurt's self-serve machines. The shop's yogurt contains less than 20 calories per ounce.

A new kind of frozen treat has landed in New Brunswick this week with the opening of Fruity Yogurt at 38 Easton Avenue. The self-serve frozen yogurt shop with its bright green tiling and orange décor held its grand opening on Wednesday.

The store has several varieties of yogurt in flavors like mango, pomegranate, cookies and cream, and green tea; four flavors will change every week. There are more than 30 toppings including fresh fruit like mango, pineapple, blueberry kiwi, granola, brownie dough, cookie dough and more. The frozen yogurt desserts are weighed and cost 43 cents per ounce.

Other items also paint the menu, such as Bubble tea, smoothies and slushies. Smoothies can be self-serve, customers can choose the flavor yogurt or soft serve ice cream and fresh fruit and other toppings are then blended for them. Their shaved ice slushies are Hawaii shaved ice with fruit toppings and other toppings like red bean and mochi.

Though the store has only been open for a few days, some customers have already become regulars.

Graduate student Hadi Halim said he's been to Fruity Yogurt four times since their opening.

"I like the yogurt," Halim said. "Obviously there's no other place where you can get yogurt here, right?"

He said he liked that they carried pomegranate flavored frozen yogurt, which is something he's never seen before, and their prices are a little cheaper than other stores.

School of Arts and Sciences senior Sasha Chenet said she liked that the shop had a healthy selection.

"I like the health options," Chenet said. "When we ordered tea the first time, they asked us if we wanted it light or with more sugar."

Hadi said he and Chenet have already established themselves as regular customers.

"If you compare this with other places, I think this place tastes better. They say they use natural juice, I think that's why," Halim said.

Owner Jenny Chen said she has many interests, but her passion for frozen yogurt led her to establish the Fruity Yogurt franchise.

She worked as a piano teacher in the early 1990s at Westminster Conservatory in Princeton and later went into the real estate business. Chen founded Dynasty Realtors in Somerset County and was a realty owner for 11 years until her husband's job transferred him to California. While in California, she became acquainted with the frozen yogurt fad on the West Coast.

"I loved it so much I went at least three times per day," Chen said.

Determined to create her own yogurt shop, Chen began experimenting with frozen yogurt at home but found it just didn't turn out the same. She started going to cooking school and worked as a cooking teacher at a community college.

"At the school, most of the people were owners or were going to be owners. I thought that might be something I could do," she said.

She spent a year preparing for opening her own business and went to three different cooking schools in Taiwan and Japan.

She also spent time with a master of the shaved ice and ice cream business, Paul Chen, who gave her advice and conducted one-on-one training for a week.

"He told me to make it good, you must make it different from other people," she said.

He told her she was making the yogurt almost the same way as ice cream and this wasn't right, she said. Together they tried out many different recipes until she came up with her own.

She said Chen helped train many successful ice cream and shaved ice franchises.

"He is the one that made me change my whole direction," she said.

Chen returned to New Jersey and opened up the first Fruity Yogurt location at a plaza in Hillsborough. This month she plans to open another store on Nassau Street in Princeton and is looking to expand the franchise to North Jersey and nationwide.

Chen said she creates her frozen yogurt by using all natural ingredients and cultured yogurt. Most of the products do not have milk added and are less than 20 calories per ounce.

Chen said the self-serve aspect of the store also sets Fruity Yogurt apart, as customers can take as little or as much as they want.

Heather Brookhart

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