The frozen yogurt scene in Columbia has become one store sweeter. But Orange Leaf, the city’s newest frozen yogurt bar, doesn’t focus on whipping up a healthier dessert than anyone else. Instead, the store offers a casual environment with music, TV and abundant seating where costumers can relax while enjoying their own tasty creations.
“We don’t care if you hang out here,” General Manager Lance McCarter says. “You can spend your whole day here if you want.”
And with such a wide variety of frozen yogurt flavors and fresh toppings, staying for a while is easy. Orange Leaf offers 16 of its 62 flavors at a time, including unique tastes such as cotton candy, watermelon and taro.
While vanilla, chocolate, cheesecake and either birthday cake or wedding cake are always on tap, Orange Leaf is constantly changing the flavors it offers. Employees, customers and Facebook fans of Orange Leaf all influence the frozen yogurt featured each day.
“It depends on who’s working, what everyone wants and what everyone says they want when they come in,” McCarter says.
After filling a bowl with their favorite flavors, customers top off their yogurt with fresh-never-frozen extras such as blueberries, M&Ms and sprinkles. Then it’s time to weigh and pay — each ounce of frozen yogurt and toppings costs 43 cents.
Although the low price has made Orange Leaf a popular hangout for high school and college students, McCarter says the business’s unique location at 2101 W. Broadway brings in a variety of customers. The large size of the store highlights Orange Leaf as an appetizing option for fundraisers and birthday parties. Being close to neighborhoods and schools also contributes to the clientele.
“Older people and families seem to love this because they don’t have to worry about parking or the busy-ness of downtown,” he says.
But the quieter location wasn’t very “quiet” on the Aug. 25 opening night, when Orange Leaf offered a free cup of frozen yogurt to each Facebook fan from 6 to 9 p.m. McCarter says he estimated 800 to 850 customers in those three hours.
With a successful opening and a stream of customers since, McCarter attributes the business’s popularity to the values of the company.
“We always make sure everyone is taken care of,” he says. “Our goal is to make everyone happy when they walk in the door rather than when they leave.”
Find out more about Orange Leaf at orangeleafyogurt.com.