Eleven-year-old Caroline Bohm stood shivering with a gaggle of her friends from Islander Middle School in the 40-degree, Saturday morning weather — counting the minutes until Menchie's Frozen Yogurt opened its doors for the first time.
"We're all waiting in the cold for 'Fro Yo'," Caroline said, grinning.
Menchie's franchise owners Scott and Jen Baklenko and Joe Sauvage celebrated their Mercer Island location's grand opening with several hundred curious and enthusiastic families and teens quaking with excitement to get a free 8 oz. cup and a free t-shirt. They'll be running give-aways and discounts all week as part of the store's "Grand Opening Week".
Over 100 people formed a line down that stretched down SE 27th Street past HSBC Bank.
Local dad Mark Rousso, who was waiting his two small children, Lee (favorite flavor: berry) and Siena (she prefers chocolate), said the buzz in the Town Center downtown area had been building for months ever since the "Menchie's" sign appeared.
"They've been asking me every day — literally, every day — since the sign appeared: 'When's it going to open?'," he said. "How about that — they finally open on the coldest day of the year!"
The store features 14 frozen yogurt flavor stations. On opening day, the flavors included Cake Batter, Dole Whip, Dulce de Leche, Strawberry Lemon Sorbet, Pumpkin, Thin Mint Cookies, Red Velvet Cake, Mud Pie and more.
The first yogurt pump always offers a sugar-free option, followed by a sorbet in the second pump and a "tart" flavor in the third, said owner Scott Baklenko. Almost all of the flavors are certified kosher, he added.
After patrons fill their cups with fro-yo, there are over 40 toppings are available on the side. The store charges by weight.
Scott Baklenko said the flavors are rotated every four days from Menchie's 140 flavors.
The Mercer Island location is the second opened by the Seattle trio — their first store opened in July in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. Plans are in the works to open four more stores in Edmonds, Mukilteo, Mt. Vernon and at Gonzaga University in Spokane.