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Frozen Yogurt

Brent, Tara and two-year old Colton Clark of B & T Frozen Yogurt opened the business last month. (Josh Biggs/Arizona Daily Sun)

Josh Biggs

If it's hovering around 80 degrees in Flagstaff, that means it's summer.

A cool treat can be found at the new B&T Yogurt, purveyor of frozen yogurts, sorbets, all-fruit smoothies, shakes and ice cream. Brent and Tara Clark independently own and operate B&T, a combination of her restaurant knowledge and his entrepreneurial spirit.

B&T is in the space last occupied by TCBY yogurt, a national chain. The Clarks wanted to do yogurt but weren't interested in a franchise.

They bought the soft-serve machines from the former TCBY proprietor and opened their own shop on May 25.

One day's flavors included lemon (in the popular, protein-rich Greek style), no-sugar-added praline, pomegranate-raspberry sorbet and the usual chocolate and vanilla, along with ice cream.

VARIED PATHS TO YOGURT

Frozen yogurt shops require regular planning. When the yogurt comes off the truck, it's solid as concrete and can't be enjoyed for a few days. It has to thaw to run through the soft-serve machine, which whips it into the mousse-smooth consistency.

But the Clarks can be patient with their yogurt, as the idea knocked around for years before becoming a reality.

Brent came to frozen yogurt by way of saddles and bits. After graduating from Northern Arizona University with a business degree, he worked at the Flagstaff Riding Center, then went off to Houston and worked for the Shell oil company.

He went independent again though, with his own short-haul trucking company as well as a tack shop.

Through his sales travels for the tack store, he saw where frozen yogurt was popular and he thought it would do well in the health-conscious Flagstaff, which he missed during his 10 years in Texas.

He sold his tack store and returned to Flagstaff about five years ago. With the help of good friend turned wife Tara -- who managed a restaurant in Illinois -- B&T started in earnest last fall.

They've endeavored to be locals who support locals. Flagstaff doesn't have a frozen yogurt supplier (their supplier is YoCream out of Oregon), but they hired local firms for flooring and plumbing when they remodeled their store just off Milton Road.

They've found good neighbors in fellow shopping strip residents like Burritos Fiesta, whose owner even shares one of his employees with the Clarks. The formerly corporate chain location looks more like a coffee shop now, with warm tones and fresh daisies in tiny vases on the tables.

Though the base flavors are shipped in, the Clarks experiment with mixtures. Their business neighbors are taste-testers.

MAPLE BACON SOON?

One popular mashup with the customers was a raspberry cheesecake flavor. Another was the summery pineapple-coconut.

The latter was so well-liked, when they ran out, people were bummed.

"We had people come in because somebody else told them about it," Brent said.

They tried to go without the chocolate and vanilla standbys but found that customers really wanted the classics. When they added ice cream, they found that people were still plenty interested in that even if they were at a shop where "yogurt" is in the name.

Frozen yogurt is something bought with dispensable income, but the Clarks say TCBY's customers seem to be returning to the familiar storefront, and the owners hope for a boost in business from NAU students. They also hope athletes will appreciate their smoothies with health supplements.

Also, it's a treat that won't do much damage to your checkbook, with cups ranging from 6 to 16 ounces, $2.50 to $5.25 (that big cup has been surprisingly popular, and not everybody buys it to share).

"They can get a nice-sized yogurt for $2.50," Brent said.

B&T's grand opening celebration is on June 23. Possibly on that special day's menu: maple bacon flavor frozen yogurt.

Hillary Davis can be reached at hdavis@azdailysun.com or 556-2261.

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