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Health care act created Froyo


Drew Peterson

Froyo Earth owner/general manager Stephen Kraft stands with store manager Tyler curtis and employee Judy Ramos.

Cheney residents owe it to “Obamacare” for bringing frozen yogurt to Cheney.


As outlandish as it may sound, Stephen Kraft, the general manager of the Froyo Earth chain which is now at seven different locations throughout the state, may have never of ventured into the frozen yogurt business if it were not for the passing of the health care act in 2010.

“I had been working in the medical device industry for years,” Kraft said. “And then my brother got sick and I took some time off to be with him before he passed. When I came back to my job, I wasn’t doing all that great in sales and then “Obamacare” passed March 23, 2010. The company saw that as a huge negative because it was a big tax on medical device companies so they let go 100 people nationwide and I was one of them.”

Kraft, who had three kids nearing college and one in grade school, decided that he had to do something, and do it quick.

Enter frozen yogurt.

Kraft initially wanted to move into the health supplement industry, but realized there were already too many businesses flooding that particular market and settled on frozen yogurt because it provided a healthful treat option.

Kraft opened his first Froyo Earth near First Avenue and Division Street in 2010 and became the first to introduce the concept of self-service frozen yogurt to Spokane. He also became one of the first businesses in the nation to coin the term “froyo,” (short for frozen yogurt) in its name.

And after a delayed opening due to a few landlord issues coupled with the difficult task of freeing up enough people to work on expansion during the busy summer schedule, Kraft was finally able to open the doors to Froyo Earth in Cheney Aug. 18 near Safeway.

“I had always had my mind on Cheney, but obviously had to kind of rush to put in things in Spokane first,” Kraft said. “We always kind of wondered if there would be enough people to have a business out here and it’s been a pleasant surprise so far. Cheney is hungry for a more healthful treat, which is what we are all about.”

Health generally doesn’t coincide with treat, but as the earth in its name suggests, Froyo Earth does things a little differently than the typical frozen yogurt establishment.

Kraft continued his trendsetting ways by becoming the first in the area to use Portland, Ore. based “YoCream” as a frozen yogurt supplier, which has played a big part in the overall healthiness of the yogurt Froyo Earth uses.

“I tasted a bunch of yogurts all around and I thought that YoCream offered the best,” Kraft said. “It’s rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) free, hormone free, from hormone free cows. It’s all-natural, even the coloring. Everything is natural, no preservatives, it’s fresh frozen. It’s got the same health benefits as if you were getting yogurt off the shelf at your grocery store.”

Along with the YoCream frozen yogurt, Froyo Earth also differentiates itself in the quality of toppings that are offered. While they still provide the option to serve up quite a few toppings of the “unhealthy” variety including items such as chocolate covered gummy bears, sour worms, M&Ms, Oreos, cookie dough, brownie bites and fruity pebbles, they also offer a plethora of fresh, hand-chosen fruit options.

“That’s another thing we pride ourselves on,” Kraft said. “What makes us different is we go out after fresh fruit toppings. We hand shop a lot of fruit, I don’t just take the stuff that the food service companies deliver. They make kind of a cheap version; we go after the Costco-type quality of stuff.”

Froyo Earth even chooses to implement “healthier” options for the planet as they use low-energy closed-end cooling equipment and also biodegradable cups.

But cups and toppings aside, what matters most with any food item is how it tastes; something that froyo earth and frozen yogurt in general has vastly improved over the years.

“What has changed from the `70s, is that all yogurts back then were tart,” Kraft said. “But here they have found a way to make a yogurt that tastes like ice cream. It’s hard to differentiate. It tastes like ice cream yet it’s got all the healthful benefits, and most of them with zero fat. So it’s about the same or a little less sugar and it’s a miniscule amount of fat compared to ice cream.”

This is good news for the health conscious Kraft who stressed the overall importance of enhancing diet with yogurt, as it is rich in probiotics and proven to be great for digestion and the immune system.

Froyo Earth is currently offering 10 frozen yogurt flavors including alpine vanilla, cable car chocolate, chocolate caramel turtle, peanut butter, cake batter, cotton candy, strawberry, huckleberry, pomegranate raspberry and tropical tart. It is open from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.


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