YoPo Continues Bringing Unique Flavors to Franklin

YoPo Continues Bringing Unique Flavors to Franklin

A family-run business since 1982, Yogurt Pump's frozen treats are still a local favorite.

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When Scott Stephenson started the Yogurt Pump – or YoPo, as it’s commonly known – in Chapel Hill in 1982, frozen yogurt was not the giant it is today. It was a year after TCBY opened its first shop in Little Rock, Arkansas. “We think it’s the oldest frozen yogurt shop in North Carolina,” says Elise Stephenson, Scott’s daughter and managing partner who has worked in the shop on and off since high school. “He completely hit the mark on the head and beat the market by like 20 years.”

Photo by Briana BroughOf course, there were trying times and big decisions to be made when the second surge of yogurt popularity hit in the 2000s with the rise of self-service shops like Pinkberry. Ultimately YOPO decided to stick to their roots as a 1980s fro-yo shop. Cleanliness is easier to maintain when employees, called “Yo Pros,” serve the yogurt, Elise says. “It’s more work for us, but we love having almost an old soda shop kind of feel.”

Though they’ve been in business for 34 years, they keep things fresh by developing their own flavors in-shop. “We are very much something people look to as a standard,” Elise says – so much so that YOPO’s flavors are often mimicked by others in the market. But there’s no bad blood, Elise says, since YOPO is too small to trademark its specific flavors like strawberry lemonade and toasted marshmallow. “It’s almost like getting a high-five that you’re doing something right.”

Above all the goodness that comes with owning a frozen yogurt shop, Elise finds fulfillment beyond cones of Irish mint and red velvet cake. “It’s something larger than just the product. It starts with something that everyone can love” – delicious frozen yogurt – “then it becomes something bigger than that,” she says. “It’s the community that we’ve created here that the town of Chapel Hill – the students and the locals – continue to propagate. It wouldn’t be the same somewhere else.”

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Assistant Editor Laura Zolman Kirk is a Kentuckian turned Chapel Hillian and totally in love with this special slice of North Carolina.