For those of us who miss TCBY in downtown Lincoln, the arrival of Red Mango has been a blessing.
The frozen yogurt chain opened its third Nebraska location and first in Lincoln on Jan. 21. There are two others stores in Omaha, with another under construction.
Former investment banker Daniel J. Kim founded Red Mango in Los Angeles near UCLA in July 2007. Today, there are more than 100 locations in 25 states. Many of the stores, like the one in Lincoln, are near college campuses.
The Lincoln store is managed by Pat Winterstein. The regional manager is Justin Lorimer.
Red Mango specializes in all-natural, nonfat frozen yogurt, which costs 45 cents per ounce. The store also sells fruit and yogurt smoothies, probiotic iced teas and parfaits with fresh fruit and organic flax seed granola.
The store recently introduced hot chocolate chillers, a cold drink featuring Ghirardelli dark chocolate.
Nutrition is Red Mango's selling point. The store offers calorie counts on all of its products. Nothing is artificial.
The frozen yogurt, of course, isn't as sweet as ice cream, but it's pretty darn close. The yogurt is tangy, especially the fruit flavors. Regional manager Lorimer said the Lincoln store always will have original and pomegranate available. The other eight flavors rotate.
Red Mango pairs flavors to allow for swirls. The signature pomegranate, for instance, was teamed with spring favorite white peach. I enjoyed the original with the new flavor, dark chocolate. Also available this week are mad vanilla, chai latte, key lime pie, black currant, mandarin orange and dulce de leche, a caramel-like flavor.
Toppings are many, but not labeled. Little descriptive cards would be nice. The table contained fresh fruit, candy bars, breakfast cereal and more to choose from.
Here are a couple of more things to know about the yogurt: It's gluten-free and kosher. Grade: A
The Lincoln store is self-serve, meaning customers create their own yogurt cups. The staff is quite helpful, especially for newbies. They explain how the yogurt machines work and encourage free samples before buying. Patrons also spoon out their own toppings.
Specialty drinks are prepared by the staff and take two to three minutes to complete.
Yogurt cups come in three different sizes. Remember you pay by the ounce. I filled a small cup two-thirds full. My bill was $3.50. Grade: B
The place has two dining areas, including one that's enclosed. The store is extremely clean with staff members continually tidying up the yogurt machine and toppings buffet.
Red Mango targets college kids. Patrons will notice fliers for the philanthropic events organized by University of Nebraska-Lincoln fraternities and sororities. Red Mango donates part of its sales to support the Greek charities. Grade: B
Very much so. Grade: A