Frozen Yogurt War Intensifies

TCBY Tries to Break Into an Already Crowded Market

A war is heating up in Harvard Square.

When the nationwide yogurt franchise TCBY opens later this week on Mt. Auburn St., it will become the eighth store selling frozen yogurt or ice cream in the Square.

And local ice cream and yogurt vendors say that TCBY, the common name for This Country's Best Yogurt, will intensify what they describe as their own version of the "burger wars."

"It has to do with the McDonald's-Burger King philosophy," said Mark D. Caseau, manager of the Temptation Gourmet Frozen Yogurt Shoppe. "When two stores are right across the street from each other, it forces each to stay on its toes and service its customers that much better."

Tim D. Haylon, director of operations for the construction of the new TCBY, says that he is not worried about competition. "There are enough people in the area who want our product that everyone can get a piece of the action."

"Boston is indeed the ice cream capital of the world," Haylon added. "There is a higher per-capita consumption of ice cream here than anywhere else in the world."

The new frozen yogurt shop will occupy a spot formerly used by Festivo, a women's clothing store. TCBY is a nationwide franchise with nine stores in the greater Boston area, according to Haylon.

The new store is different from other frozen yogurt shops in that it will be entirely take-out and will not have seats within the store, Haylon said.

Ice cream and yogurt store owners in the area say they are not concerned about the new TCBY.

"I don't think TCBY will pose much of a threat to us," said Jody Geier, a Boston University student who works part time at Temptation's. "People just aren't into frozen yogurt enough to go running out of their way to have one kind of yogurt over another."

"If I sold only frozen yogurt, I would be concerned with competition," said Jessica Leahy, owner and manager of Herrell's Ice Cream on Dunster St. "However, we are primarily an ice cream shop, so we are not worried."

But stores like Herrell's and Baskin-Robbins, more widely known for their selection of ice cream, do also offer frozen yogurt. "We sensed the market," Leahy said. "In order to offer our customers options, we started making our own yogurt."

Ice cream proprietors say that even though they have entered the frozen yogurt market, ice cream will still be their main business.

"I don't think ice cream will ever go out of style because of yogurt," Leahy said. "It's like blue jeans. Blue jeans are a trend that are here to stay. People in their 50s and older come in here all the time. They aren't wearing blue jeans, but they want ice cream."