A Dairy Tale
Earlier this month, Robin Chatterjee and Viral Jhaveri, founders of the Yogurtbay chain of frozen yoghurt stores, took a Saturday off from work to tend to a stall that they had set up at a “good client’s” wedding. The client in question was not an old acquaintance, nor did he have to cough up a substantial amount of money to earn the favour. The boys put up the stall for free as a goodwill gesture for a “valued customer”.
It’s this generosity of spirit that has contributed to Yogurtbay’s immense popularity. On our frequent visits to their flaghip store in Khar, which opened in March this year, we’ve often found them giving away complimentary toppings and on occasion a free yoghurt or two to regular customers, some of whom visit almost everyday. In the evenings when the store is at its busiest (the average footfall at the Khar flagship is about 400 people a day), Jhaveri and Chatterjee take turns to serve the restless crowds that throng their 200 square feet shop off Carter Road.
Neither Chatterjee nor Jhaveri had any training or experience in the hospitality business prior to opening Yogurtbay. Chatterjee, 25, has a degree in consumer psychology, which he studied while at university in Melbourne. He returned to Mumbai in 2009 with the intention of launching a shoe label for men. Jhaveri, 26, graduated in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University. When they met in 2008 during a trip home, the boys only had their foreign education, Powai as their residential address, and plenty of exposure to frozen yoghurt while studying abroad, in common. That and the ambition to set up their own business.
Once they became close friends, Jhaveri and Chatterjee considered starting an organic pizza restaurant chain in tier-two cities, but abandoned the idea after their research suggested that it “would not make a difference to anyone living there”, said Chatterjee. Both Chatterjee and Jhaveri are health freaks and wanted to stick to a business plan that would involve health food, and so they toyed with the concept of frozen yoghurt next. “We’re a yoghurt loving people and since it’s a part of our regular diet we figured it would not be too alien a concept to serve yoghurt as dessert,” said Chatterjee. The boys launched the brand with five regular flavours, chocolate, strawberry, mango, blueberry cheesecake and plain yoghurt, which they continue to serve daily. They also offer more inventive flavours such as Kit Kat, New York cheesecake, tiramisu, French vanilla, and Oreo cheesecake, which they serve on a rotational basis. Their range of toppings, which includes iced fruit, caramelised almonds, muesli, hazelnut dipped in Nutella, Gems, soy-based vegan marshmallows and fruit poppers (edible pellets injected with fruit syrup), adds to the yoghurt’s immense appeal.
Like us, you may have wondered how any of this qualifies as healthy. Chatterjee says that to make their fruit flavoured yoghurts, they use natural yoghurt, skimmed milk, and real fruit pulp, and do not add preservatives or sugar. “We want to bust the myth that healthy foods lack in taste,” said Chatterjee. The pastry flavoured yoghurts, however, are expectedly more indulgent, with ingredients such as cream cheese and cookie crumble.
The softy ice cream-like frozen yoghurt at Yogurtbay is so good that they won our vote for Best New Chain to open in Mumbai this year. Their powder-pink strawberry yoghurt, for instance, is reassuringly flecked with tiny strawberry seeds. When you top it up with a spoonful of fresh strawberries, you have a dish that can make an enthusiast out of a yoghurt hater. The best-selling blueberry cheesecake yoghurt is on par with some of the best blueberry cheesecake we’ve had in the city, and the soon-to-be launched panna cotta yoghurt has their regulars salivating in anticipation. Chatterjee and Jhaveri said that they constantly experiment with flavours along with a team of consulting chefs. “We want Yogurtbay to be the Mad Over Donuts equivalent of frozen yoghurt stores,” said Chatterjee. They opened their second outpost in Breach Candy in November, and plan to expand to Hyderabad, Bangalore and New Delhi next year.Tags: frozen yoghurt, Robin Chatterjee, Viral Jhaveri, Yogurtbay
Off Carter Road
Near Cafe Coffee Day
1A Sagar Vilas Co-op Housing Society
Opposite Navroze Apartments
Near Organic Fresh
PhoneKhar: 6765 0385; Breach Candy: 98333 60235.
HoursKhar: Daily, 11am to 1.30am; Breach Candy: Daily, 11am to 12.30am