Frozen yogurt seller Pinkberry, known for its healthier alternatives to ice cream, wants to serve you breakfast as well as dessert.
The national chain is using its Boston-area locations to roll out a light menu centered around Pinkberry Greek, a thicker, less-sweet yogurt that packs 3 grams of protein into every ounce. Customers can customize it with honey, fresh berries, chocolate granola, shaved almonds, and other mix-ins. The shops are also adding a morning necessity — coffee.
Trippe Lonian, chief executive of NE Frog Pond LLC, the Boston company that operates all seven Massachusetts Pinkberrys, said the chain wants to capitalize on the growing popularity of Greek yogurt.
“We saw people are increasingly adopting Greek into their morning routine,” Lonian said. “Pinkberry wanted to redefine the experience.”
Pinkberry stores on Newbury Street and at the Prudential Center in Boston, Harvard Square in Cambridge, and in Hingham and Wellesley have started opening at 8 a.m. instead of later in the morning. The Pinkberry at South Shore Plaza in Braintree is aiming for the sleep-in breakfast crowd, doling out the Greek yogurt at 10 a.m. when the mall doors are unlocked.
The California-based company, founded in 2005, is only the latest of many quick-serve restaurant chains to go after early morning customers as way to bring in more revenue. Getting consumers to think of a frozen yogurt shop as a place to start their day may be a challenge, industry analysts say.
“There’s a lot of competition in breakfast now,” said Joe Pawlak, vice president at Technomic, a food industry research firm in Chicago. “McDonald’s expanded its breakfast menu; there’s Burger King, Subway, and even convenience store chains are offering breakfast. It’s not as easy as one thinks.”
It’s not surprising that six Massachusetts locations were selected to be among the 17 Pinkberry stores testing the Greek yogurt fare, which is expected to be introduced in more of the chain’s 170 stores later this year. Last summer, Pinkberry chief executive Ron Graves said the Newbury Street, Prudential Center, and Harvard Square shops have been ranked in the top 10 for sales companywide.
Lonian said he also believes the Boston area was chosen because of consumers’ discriminating tastes.
“In our experience, Bostonians appreciate our foodie orientation,” he said. “It seemed like a really natural fit.”
Pinkberry is also adding afternoon snack items that are more substantial than a cup of frozen yogurt. The new offerings include a yogurt base with cucumber, sesame nuggets, and red and yellow peppers. There is also Pinkberry’s take on an Italian caprese salad — Greek yogurt, basil, tomatoes, olive oil, and a balsamic glaze.
All of the expanded menu items are offered in snack or meal sizes, and cost between $4.25 and $5.95. Customers can opt for a “combo breakfast,” which includes a 12-ounce cup of coffee and a snack-sized Greek yogurt creation.
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