The wait’s over, Pinkberry fans.
The California-based frozen yogurt chain — known for its popularity with A-List celebrities — made its Central Texas debut Friday, opening in the Westbank Market shopping center at 3300 Bee Cave Road in the Westlake area.
Over the next six years, franchisee Lone Star Swirls says it hopes to open as many as 12 more locations in the Austin and San Antonio areas.
Pinkberry CEO Ron Graves said Central Texas has been on his radar for several years now.
“Austin’s a great city, a great community,” he said. “It has a foodie culture, and people appreciate quality. We’ve had it on our wish list for a while.”
Finding the right spot to set up shop was a challenge, Graves said. Retail occupancy in the Austin area was at 94 percent at the end of 2012, its highest level since 2008.
Several new-to-Austin businesses have been competing for the little space that remains, including specialty grocer Trader Joe’s and teen-focused discount retailer Five Below.
The area’s first Pinkberry is just a few doors down from one of the highest-producing Randalls grocery stores in the chain, according to Barshop & Oles, which handles leasing for Westbank Market.
“We’re patient,” Graves said. “We spend a lot of time thinking about real estate – and great real estate is difficult to find.”
The chain, which has about 225 locations worldwide, is widely credited with making frozen yogurt – a fad during the 1980s and early 1990s – popular again when it launched in 2005.
“We reinvented the category,” Graves said. “There wasn’t a lot of innovation back then. Companies have to constantly think about innovating.”
While most frozen yogurt tastes like ice cream, Pinkberry’s products are different, according to Graves, because they have a yogurt-like taste.
The company offers about 20 flavors on a rotating basis, along with an assortment of fruits and other toppings.
“We want to win on taste,” Graves said. “A lot of companies have been inspired by our success.”
Pinkberry recently rolled out a line of Greek yogurts. The new store is one of the first in the nation to offer both the frozen and Greek yogurt varieties.
“There’s nothing else like Pinkberry,” Graves said. “I think it’s going to be pretty interesting to expose both to a new market at the same time.”