iYO Cafe, a name that is still making the rounds among Tufts students as “that new frozen yogurt place,” opened a few weeks ago in Davis Square. Yes, the cafe sells frozen yogurt. But whoever enters the cafe will be pleasantly surprised to discover that there is much more to enjoy than just the popular frozen treat.
Co-owners Bryan Poisson and Rob Parkin, who previously worked as an architect and high school teacher, respectively, had been planning to build iYO Cafe for well over a year before it became a reality. Poisson and Parkin’s primary inspiration for the shop was a desire to branch out beyond a simple frozen yogurt eatery.
“We were really trying to do a multi-purpose destination. Something that’s all day, it’s not just in the evening sort of a different feel than your traditional one-stop [yogurt place],” Poisson said.
This spark is reflected in the independently owned cafe’s name, which is a combination of an “i” for “individuality” and a “YO” for “fro-yo.” Poisson noted that the name also echoes the customization available to customers.
“[Customers can] create whatever they want from a frozen yogurt standpoint, a waffle standpoint [or a] smoothie standpoint,” he said.
Most customers start the creative process by grabbing a cup in the back of the cafe. These cups are large enough to hold as much or as little yogurt as customers desire. Lining the back wall are sleek yogurt machines that serve a variety of flavors such as cookies-and-cream and espresso.
Those who are overwhelmed by the number of flavors from which to choose should not fear: Tiny sample cups are available, so indecisive customers are free to taste any number of flavors before making a decision. Poisson said that the store rotates one or two yogurt flavors approximately every 10 days and will always provide a non-dairy offering such as sorbet or a tart.
Customers can then choose from an assortment of delicious toppings to add to their cup, ranging from guilty pleasures like cookie dough to freshly cut fruit such as kiwi, strawberries and blueberries. As if these toppings aren’t enough, iYO also provides a nearby self-serve waffle machine. The sky’s the limit with this smorgasbord of options. All items are paid for by weight at the counter, where one can also purchase items that have a set price, like baked goods and coffee.
iYO Cafe’s push for individuality can also be seen in its relationship with Davis Square and the local community. Poisson, who lived in Davis Square for years prior to opening the shop clearly knew how his place would fit in with its Davis Square surroundings.
“We’re really trying to do something particular for Davis Square, something unique,” he said.
Components of iYO’s business plan, like its effort to purchase many of its ingredients from local sources and the fact that its coffee beans are roasted in nearby western Massachusetts, highlight iYO’s goal to remain specific to Davis Square. Its support for local activities is also visible in the artwork lining the walls of the cafe, where sets of artwork from local artists are displayed on a monthly basis. Poisson encourages submissions from any interested Tufts students.
Poisson identified Tufts students as one of the major demographics that iYO Cafe is looking to attract, as students from nearby universities would help further the owners’ desire for the cafe to be seen as a multi-purpose hotspot. With its ambient lighting, spacious setup, WiFi and long hours, iYo Cafe hopes that students will also use the space as a study place.
Poisson also described future plans for the shop expanding beyond frozen yogurt. The owners say that plans include incorporating seasonal yogurt flavors, adding an active fireplace during winter, adding small dessert fondues to the menu beginning in October, expanding the lunch menu to include items like melts and soups and continuing their recently-launched customer rewards program.
With its delightful yogurt offerings, combined with an array of fresh toppings that will satisfy any frozen yogurt fan, other menu items such as coffee and baked goods and a relaxed atmosphere that is conducive to studying, iYO Cafe definitely lives up to its goal of being a multi-purpose destination and is more than simply “that new frozen yogurt place.”
The original version of this story incorrectly attributed the quote “We were really trying to do a multi-purpose destination…[yogurt place]” to Rob Parkin. In fact, the quote was said by co-owner Bryan Poisson. The current version reflects this change.