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Company and Franchise
Industry Restaurants
Founded January 2005 West Hollywood
Founder Shelly Hwang
Young Lee
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, USA
Key people
Ron Graves, CEO
Products Frozen yogurt
Fruit Parfait
Fresh Fruit Bowl
Slogan Goodness Every Day

Pinkberry is a franchise of upscale frozen dessert restaurants headquartered in Los Angeles, California.[1] There are currently over 100 stores, mostly located in Southern California and New York City.

The first store opened in January 2005 by Hye Kyung (Shelly) Hwang and Young Lee.[2] The tart, frozen dessert has a groupie-like following.[2] The company acknowledges its cult-like following by maintaining a "groupie corner" on its website.


The original Pinkberry restaurant on Huntley Drive near Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood, California

Hwang's first business venture was to open a formal English teahouse on a tiny residential street called Huntley Drive in West Hollywood, California. However, after the city refused to approve an alcohol permit for Hwang and her business partner, architect Young Lee, they decided to go with their second plan, which was a frozen yogurt concept reviving the craze of the 1980s.[3] People were soon driving across town and standing in line for up to 20 to 30 minutes to get their fix of "the taste that launched 1,000 parking tickets."[2] The second store opened in September 2006, and since then, stores began springing up all over Southern California and also branches in New York. In October 2009, Pinkberry opened its first overseas branch in the State of Kuwait at the Avenues shopping mall, and in November it opened a branch in Dallas.

On October 16, 2007, the firm took in a $27.5 million investment from Maveron, the venture fund founded by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, to expand the firm's concept nationwide.[4]

A Pinkberry location in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.

On May 1, 2009, Pinkberry announced its plans to expand its market both internationally and domestically, after receiving $9 million in second-round funding from investors. As part of its plans, Pinkberry has partnered with Kuwaiti retail conglomerate M.H. Alshaya Co. to open stores in several countries in the Middle East and signed with HMSHost to open locations in airports nationwide, the first of which will open in the late summer 2009.[5] In 2010, the company will start to expand in the Southern United States. In April 2010, the original Pinkberry store in West Hollywood, still lacking adequate parking, was closed and converted into an administrative building for the chain.[6]

There is no information on how much Hwang and Lee received upon selling Pinkberry.[clarification needed]

The company's success led to the launching of numerous competitors offering similar product, as well as the entry into the U.S. market of Red Mango, an already-existing South Korean company with a similar business model.[7][8] It was estimated that a single Pinkberry store receives more than 1,500 customers per day and can bring in $250,000 a month.[9]

Young Lee arrest[edit]

In 2001, Lee was sentenced to two days in jail and three years' probation for "felony possession of cocaine and two misdemeanor counts of battery of a spouse,... and carrying a loaded firearm".[10]

In January 2012, cofounder Young Lee was arrested on an outstanding warrant for assault with a deadly weapon, issued in June 2011 after Lee beat a homeless man with a tire iron.[11][12] Lee was on a flight inbound from Korea when the LAPD was notified by a federal database. Prosecutors said Lee and another man chased the homeless man and "beat him down" with the tire iron because Lee found the transient's sexually explicit tattoo offensive.[13] LAPD officials said that Lee demanded that the man kneel and apologize, the man consented, but Lee attacked him anyway, chasing him down, kicking him and "beating him down" with a tire iron.[14]

Pinkberry's Senior Vice President of Marketing and Design Laura Jakobsen responded to the Young Lee arrest with this statement that firmly distances the co-founder from the company's current operations:[15]

"Mr. Young Lee has no involvement with Pinkberry, our partners or our more than 170 stores world-wide. Pinkberry ended its ties with Mr. Lee formally on May 1, 2010. He has no influence or input into the company in any way, and the parties have not been in communication with one another since Mr. Lee's exit. While it would be inappropriate for us to speculate on the allegations in question, we can say without hesitation that Pinkberry values the communities we serve and stands against acts of violence of any kind, especially those involving the most vulnerable among us."


A medium-sized, original flavored frozen dessert

Pinkberry's menu consists of Original, Green Tea, Pomegranate (introduced on November 11, 2008), Chocolate, Mango, Watermelon, and Peanut Butter flavored frozen yogurt style desserts, in four sizes: Mini (3 US fl oz (89 ml)), Small (5 US fl oz (150 ml)), Medium (8 US fl oz (240 ml)), and Large (13 US fl oz (380 ml)). Pinkberry occasionally features seasonal flavors, for example Pumpkin in the fall.[16] Also: Key Lime, Strawberry,Grapefruit, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Hazelnut, Cookies and Cream (all Spring 2013), cherry, and coconut. Other products offered include Shaved Ice, with fresh fruit or green tea, a fruit parfait (introduced on June 27, 2009), and two types of smoothies. (Note that their "shaved ice" is not the same as the Hawaiian "shave ice."[citation needed])
As of September 7, 2011, Pinkberry dessert contains per 1/2 cup (100 g) 100 calories for Original, 120 calories for Pomegranate, 100 calories for Mango, 120 calories for Chocolate, and 170 calories for the seasonal Peanut Butter.

Fruit toppings, cut fresh on-site, include: strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, banana, kiwi, mango, and pineapple. There are also a variety of dry toppings to choose from, including: almonds, carob chips, chestnuts, chocolate chips, Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Pebbles, coconut shavings, cookies 'n cream, Fruity Pebbles, granola, mochi (rice cakes), shaved milk chocolate, shaved white chocolate and yogurt chips. Three wet toppings were introduced June 26, 2009: Italian caramel, honey and pomegranate juice. Pinkberry has introduced seasonal toppings like pomegranate seeds, lychee and bing cherries for holiday and summer seasons.

Store design[edit]

The company stores are standardized with designer Philippe Starck furniture and lighting by Le Klint.[17] A pastel color palette is used for the walls and natural pebbles line the floor. Customers are greeted with "Welcome to Pinkberry" and handed the product with two hands by the server. Samples are freely given out. Customers may replace a product they don't like for another choice.

Branding & Placement[edit]

The Pinkberry brand has been designed & managed by LA-based branding firm Ferroconcrete.[citation needed] Pinkberry has been featured in an episode of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm (season 8), mentioned in the Comedy Central cartoon Ugly Americans (season 2, episode 9, 'Lilly and the Beast'), and also in a few scenes of the 2014 film Still Alice.


Interior of a Pinkberry store in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Originally marketed as frozen yogurt, Pinkberry has faced complaints that its product does not meet the California Department of Food and Agriculture's definition of frozen yogurt because it does not contain the necessary amount of bacterial cultures per ounce. The Los Angeles Times sent samples of Pinkberry's product to a lab and revealed that Pinkberry did contain active yogurt cultures, but it does not contain the minimum amount of culture to call itself frozen yogurt, according to California state law.[18] According to the Los Angeles Times, Pinkberry's product had 69,000 bacterial cultures per gram, compared to 200,000 for Baskin-Robbins. The National Yogurt Association (NYA) established its own criteria for live and active culture yogurt. In order for manufacturers to carry their Live and Active Culture seal, refrigerated yogurt products must contain at least 100 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture, and frozen yogurt products must contain 10 million cultures per gram at the time of manufacture. This level was based on a survey of leading research scientists involved in clinical studies of the health attributes associated with live and active culture yogurt.[19]

Pinkberry appears to have altered its dessert recipe and has now earned the right to call its product real yogurt. Pinkberry officially received the Live and Active Cultures Seal from the National Yogurt Association on April 17, 2008, almost 3 years after the initial "real yogurt" lawsuit was filed.[20]

The Pinkberry jingle heard on its Web site is sung by the 1980s musician Tigra, from L'Trimm. Apparently in response to the recent lawsuit against Pinkberry claiming that its product is not "real yogurt," for a while Pinkberry had removed all lyrics to this jingle on its Web site except for the word "Pinkberry," which repeats over and over again at the chorus (prior to this change, the jingle had lyrics that characterized Pinkberry's product as "yogurt," and compared its product as better than ice cream).[21] The original jingle is now playing again on the Web site.

The unproven health benefits attributed to yogurt that were previously posted on the walls of Pinkberry (e.g., cures colon cancer, fights yeast infections) have been removed.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Contact." Pinkberry. Retrieved on February 26, 2010. "Pinkberry 6310 W San Vicente Blvd Suite 100, Los Angeles CA 90048"
  2. ^ a b c Netburn, Deborah (2006-08-04). "The Taste That Launched 1,000 Parking Tickets". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-01-25. [dead link]
  3. ^ Pinkberry's Success Story - Small Biz Scene (
  4. ^ Pinkberry Raises $27.5M |
  5. ^ Jennings, Lisa (May 11, 2009). "Fro-yo chains in heated battle to ice competition". 
  6. ^ Chang, Andrea (April 19, 2010). "Frozen yogurt seller Pinkberry to close original store in West Hollywood". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-05-10. 
  7. ^ Steinhauer, Jennifer (2007-02-21). "Heated Competition, Steaming Neighbors. This Is Frozen Yogurt?". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-03-29. 
  8. ^ Emily Bryson York, "Meltdown Ahead For Yogurt Shops?", Los Angeles Business Journal, May 14, 2007, archived here by Internet Archive.
  9. ^ Boyle, Matthew (2007-05-25). "It Came From Los Angeles". Fortune Magazine. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  10. ^ Gold, Scott; Andrew Blankstein; Victoria Kim (18 January 2012). "Pinkberry co-founder Young Lee accused of chasing, beating transient". Los Angeles Times. 
  11. ^ Blankstein, Andrew; Robert J. Lopez (16 January 2012). "Pinkberry co-founder Young Lee arrested on assault warrant -". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Blankstein, Andrew (2012-01-17). "Pinkberry co-founder beat homeless man with tire iron, LAPD says -". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Sexually explicit tattoo angered Pinkberry founder, officials say (Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2012)
  14. ^ Pinkberry co-founder pleads not guilty to tire iron assault (Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2012)
  15. ^ "Pinkberry's official statement on Lee's Arrest". LA Weekly. 17 January 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Feldman, Lindsay (2007-02-26). "'Pinkberry Concept' of Yogurt Gets Set To Infuse Manhattan". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2007-04-21. 
  18. ^ Yoshino, Kimi (2007-06-21). "Pinkberry passes test, but cold war goes on". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-06-21. 
  19. ^ : Live & Active Culture Yogurt : Live and Active Culture (LAC) Yogurt Facts
  20. ^ "After Three Years, Pinkberry Finally Approved as 'Frozen Yogurt'". 2008-08-17. Retrieved 2008-08-17. 
  21. ^ Dessert Trend: What's In Pinkberry? : NPR
  22. ^ "Pinkberry's Legal Jam". 2007-06-14. Retrieved 2007-06-14. 


Further reading[edit]

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