Journey to the “Golden-Land”

Anam Siddiq | New University

Anam Siddiq | New University
UCI students enjoy the best of both worlds at UTC: Yogurtland and Golden Spoon.

Although Yogurtland has enjoyed enormous success from UC Irvine students since a branch opened at the University Town Center across the street a week ago, Golden Spoon is letting Yogurtland know from day one that it’s going to take more than bright colors and loud music to take their customers of over two decades.
As the doors of UTC’s Yogurtland opened for the first time on Sept. 26 with a variety of their classic flavors, Golden Spoon drew in students with a new special of their own: $1 mini cups and $2 small cups of frozen yogurt in celebration of the company’s 25th year anniversary. But which store will reign supreme over college students: Golden Spoon or Yogurtland?
Golden Spoon has been at the UTC since May of 1987, and has stayed there over the years through their assortment of frozen yogurt flavors, toppings and loyal customers. Manager Lieng Thiem assures that it’s the product that keeps people coming to Golden Spoon, and even though a competitor has opened mere yards away, he is not worried about losing customers.
“All of [the Yogurtlands] open near us,” said Thiem, “[but] we get regular loyal customers [that] come in every day.” And after a week of having a competitor so close by, Thiem says that Golden Spoon has been doing better than before, with sales even doubling because of their special.
Yogurtland has only been in operation since 2004, but has stores in five states and over 10 locations in Orange County, alone. And while Thiem’s claim that Yogurtlands mostly open near competitors is apparent in some locations, Yogurtland Director of Operations Kurt Chou thinks differently.
“We’re not here to compete,” assures Chou. “The businesses with the best value will have the most business.”
Chou says that so far business has been good, with tremendous support from UCI students and locals, and says that being close to other popular eateries such as Cha for Tea has been “mutually beneficial,” with hungry students hopping from one restaurant to the next for food and desserts.
UCI students do seem to love the fact that Yogurtland is now on campus; UTC is regularly littered with students clamoring for some self-serve yogurt.
“It’s so colorful … I feel like a kid again,” said first year Jia Li as she admired Yogurtland’s bright green tile walls and symmetrically shaped white ceiling and counters. This modern design, along with the upbeat loud music pulsating through the store, makes going to Yogurtland feel more like shopping for flavors and accessorizing with toppings to fit your cool personal style.
Golden Spoon’s 1950’s-inspired vibe without background music may not appeal to a customer’s inner child, but there are other things that Thiem believes makes Golden Spoon a better store.
“Yogurtland doesn’t [have a] list of their flavors,” Thiem points out. “So customers get in line and don’t know [what flavors are available],” Thiem says that customers are even able to call him and ask which flavors are available out of their over 50 frozen yogurts they rotate through the month.
Yogurtland’s roughly 23 flavors normally do not cause a lot of confusion over what is available for most customers because each store carries 16 flavors at a time and rotates five seasonal flavors throughout the year. The Yogurtland in the UTC, however, is only 800 square feet, more than three times smaller than the nearby Yogurtland on Jeffrey Road, and only carries 10 flavors at a time. This means that customers may be disappointed after waiting in Yogurtland’s infamously long line, only to find that their favorite flavor is nowhere to be found.
Chou says that so far no problems like these have occurred, and that the only problem Yogurtland has been having is turning people away after the store closes. He says to help solve this problem they are looking to extend the store closing until 1 a.m. instead of midnight.
One obvious difference between Golden Spoon and Yogurtland is the self-serve concept. By having self-serve stations, Yogurtland is able to serve more flavors while allowing customers to take as much frozen yogurt as they want and “really get your money’s worth,” first year Chana Harper says.
While so many people love this self-serve concept, others enjoy Golden Spoon’s more personal touch. “The staff is really nice. They serve and attend to you,” said third year Ratchaya Tantavirojn, who also says that Yogurtland gets messy when it is busy because the frozen yogurt machines are in constant use by customers and no one has time to clean them.
So while Yogurtland enjoys the hype of being new and popular on a college campus, remember that Golden Spoon has been around for 25 years for a reason. Plus, it’s not like you have to vote for one or the other. Go to both and enjoy some great frozen yogurt!