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Pinkberry Plants Its Flag in Chicago

By John DiGilio in Food on Jul 8, 2011 6:30PM

Passersby cocked their heads in wonderment at the long line of locals on State Street last night. They were not qeued up for the latest iRelease. Nor was it an admiring throng waiting for tickets to see the latest teenybopper to hit town. No, these folks were lined up in anticipation of some free frozen yogurt. It was not just any fro-yo mind you. They were waiting for a taste of Pinkberry.

The frozen yogurt juggernaut that is Pinkberry took State Street by storm last night. On one side of the street, workers at their first Chicago outpost were scurrying to serve a line that stretched for well over a block. Just up and across the street at the Dana Hotel, media guests and local personalities toasted the chain's arrival with pink champagne, the company's signature frozen treats, and a plethora of fresh fruit and dry toppings. For a few hours, River North was literally awash with creamy, frozen goodness.

When Pinkberry opened its first shop in West Hollywood in 2005 similarly sweet chaos ensued. Patrons lined the street and darn near came to blows over hard-to-find parking spaces. Things got so bad that local residents took the issue to the city council. Since that time, the frozen yogurt craze and the chain have gone global. To be fair, Pinkberry is actually late to the Chicago fro-yo maket. Vendors such as Yogen Fruz, Starfruit, and Red Mango have already staked their claims in our hearts and on our streets. Judging by the crazy reception they received from the public and our own reactions to their treats, Pinkberry has come to Chicago ready to rumble.

We sampled one of their standard flavors as well as one of their newest and were really impressed. The chocolate was creamy, and decadent. Its velvetty smoothness was not too rich and had the taste of real cocoa. The salted caramel was absolutely to die for. It too was creamy, dreamy good. A lot of frozen yogurt brands leave a hint of sourness on the tongue. Not the stuff at Pinkberry. It was full-on flavor from start to finish. Other flavors included original yogurt, mango, watermelon, and coconut. Equally as impressive was the choice of fresh fruit and dry toppings. They had everything from chocolate shavings and fresh pineapple chunks to sea salt and chocolate sauce. We piled them on and ate our way to a frozen food coma.

When we finally left last night, the line was still stretching down the block. For a grand opening, this one was auspicious and delicious. Pinkberry has a lot of catching up to do, if it plans to challenge other frozen yogurt vendors in the Windy City. Luckily, Chicago is a big town with plenty of big appetites. With one store officially opening today in River North, we can't wait to see where Pinkberry plants itself next.

Pinkberry is located at 635 North State Street.