Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pinkberry is now swirling in Atlanta

Ever since I read about Pinkberry on A Gluten-Free Guide's blog, I wanted to try it. The only problem was that at the time, the only locations were in NYC. Later on, the healthy yogurt shop opened up in L.A. If you read the Pinkberry FAQ page, you'll see a statement that their yogurts and fruit parfaits are gluten-free. The fact that their yogurts are gluten-free is not surprising. The parfaits on the other hand, are another story. They are made with granola and 98% of those sold in the U.S. contain gluten. The parfaits  are made to order so you don't have to get granola, of course.

We decided to stop in at Pinkberry after a fabulous gluten-free lunch at Blue Moon Pizza recently. The Marietta location was jam packed and the place was so loud that we could not hear ourselves think. I looked at the mostly very young staff and decided I wouldn't worry about the parfaits or the granola that day. If I had to scream for a manager to hear me, it wasn't worth the trouble and I wasn't going to order a parfait no matter what I found out about the granola anyway.

When we got up to the counter, we found out we could try as many flavors of the yogurt as we wanted to for free. And so we did. I tried coconut, mango and watermelon. Oddly enough, I didn't care for any of those and opted for basic chocolate instead. I tasted it as well before ordering. It was heavenly. I had them add fresh strawberries to it and it was some of the best frozen yogurt I've ever had. My husband can't remember what he ended up ordering and neither can I, but he liked it. He opted to have some syrup added but he regretted that. He liked the yogurt better plain as the syrup was overpowering.

OK - here is what you need to watch out for if you visit Pinkberry. The girl who took our order went to get my small cup and my husband's medium cup. She returned and placed his cup upside down on the counter. The same counter where gluten topping crumbs could easily have been since they were busy and in a hurry and well, the (non fruit) toppings are all in the same area on the counter. Many of them contain gluten, of course. The good news is that the girl never put my cup down anywhere. She filled it with the yogurt and handed it directly to me. The other good news is that the fruits are cut fresh daily and they are in a different area of the counter than the non fruit toppings.

Before our visit to Pinkberry, I e-mailed the corporate office to ask about the granola and though I got an auto e-mail reply that someone would be in touch about my inquiry, no one ever contacted me. When I called the local store after our visit, the "shift lead" (who was apparently the highest ranking person working at that moment) told me that to be safe, gluten-free customers should probably order the parfaits without granola. She did not know if the granola was gluten-free or not. I'd never order a parfait with granola because it's not my thing so I'm not going to do further research about this issue. I think the company either uses gluten-free granola and some of their staffers just don't know it - or they have incorrect info on their website about the parfaits being gluten-free.

Pinkberry is now franchised and new locations are set to open in Charlotte, NC and Orlando, FL to name a couple. Hopefully, they'll work out the granola issue soon. It's doubtful you'll get a discount if you order a parfait without granola and if it's truly gluten-free, someone should be able to confirm that from the corporate office.

Pinkberry is way out of the way for us and therefore, we won't be popping in to the Marietta location again. I'm not sure if it's the area of town or what, but the staff in Cobb county was particularly cheerful and helpful. This is something rarely seen in the Atlanta market these days - at least it's not normal at a yogurt shop. If another location opens up in town or closer to us, we'd definitely go back for more creamy and delicious gluten-free yogurt. I have a feeling that the fact that I'd just had pizza and cheesy garlic bread for lunch had something to do with the me not liking the fruit flavors on our first visit to Pinkberry. You know if New Yorkers line up around the block for the frozen treat, it must be pretty darn good!




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