By Sam Skopp
Last Thanksgiving Chris Hong and his wife, Cari, opened a Yogurtland store at Lincoln and Pico in Santa Monica. Chris previously worked as a finance executive at the world’s largest real estate corporate housing provider and after 31 years transitioned into owning his own business.
“We wanted to get into the Yogurtland portfolio because there is tremendous brand recognition,” said Chris.
Yogurtland owns its own dairy which produces all of its proprietary flavors. Each flavor goes through an average of 21 iterations before the recipe is finalized. No other yogurt company can boast the vertical integration of cow-to-cup.
“Having made that decision, I jumped in with both feet,” Chris said.
At the Lincoln and Pico store, community involvement is one of their top priorities. They have already become associated with local libraries, businesses, and most important, the many schools in the area.
“When we support the schools through various fundraising events, the families return to support our store. Nothing makes me prouder than to recognize the many wonderful families stopping in from Santa Monica and Venice,” said Chris.
John Muir Elementary, nearby Santa Monica High, Broadway Elementary and Saint Mark are just a few of the schools who have forged a partnership with Yogurtland’s newest location.
“We have done Teacher Appreciation Cards because in my opinion, there is no other profession more honorable than the teachers we have had in our lives,” said Chris, who explained that teachers can reuse the cards throughout the year for a 20 percent discount on frozen yogurt.
He has personally met with PTA Presidents, student body representatives, and high school clubs to best serve their needs. A major element of giving back to the schools is private party donations to silent auctions whereby the school posts the special event on their auction site and retain the proceeds to fund their respective programs.
Visitors to Yogurtland at Lincoln and Pico are made to feel at home and frequently leave with complimentary catering cups of yogurt for family and friends.
“We pride ourselves on friendly customer service, we continually work to keep our store spotless, and occasionally invite our guests to the back of the store to show them how are yogurt is processed,” Chris said. “People always ask, ‘Are you always like this?’ That’s just me. I like to engage with the guests and make them feel welcome. I have given free yogurt to many organizations and families because it is my way of thanking them for their support.”
This sense of community is why Chris and Cari chose Santa Monica.
“We are very lucky to be involved in a business where people feel happy about coming into our store. Each and every guest is special. Just yesterday a wonderful individual invited me to be her guest on a podcast to share our story. How fortunate is that?” Chris said.
The Yogurtland store is located at 1902 Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica. For questions, please call 310.314.0232 or visit yogurt-land.com for more information.