Oh yeah. They're gettin' sued. After trying Pinkberry in New York and being very happy with it, I was ecstatic to hear that a copycat had popped up on Thayer Street. Well, you know how life is; it fucks with you and you never seem to find time to do anything. As was the case with my desire, nay, my mission to try this new place. Finally, after over a month of kinda' sorta' doing it, I did. I came. I saw. I ate. I wasn't disappointed.
Situated in a small storefront next to Tealuxe, Juniper is easy to pass by. They have no large signs, and the small, hand-sewn letters strewn across the window don't exactly scream brand-building. They used to have, according to a photo, a name and logo on their awning, but that's now missing. I suspect that they are purposely keeping a low profile in hopes of not getting the ol' cease-and-desist. I got news for ya', it's probably in the mail.
Juniper is a pretty blatant Pinkberry ripoff. The interior aesthetic is similar, the food and menu is similar, the logo is similar, hell, it was even founded by a Korean pair (I assume from the last name). Aside from the whole marketing/legal problem, none of this is bad. I like the interior. It's clean, plastic, bright, and cheerful, if not a bit austere. The seats look hard but are pretty comfortable, and the space inside is being utilized well. Oh, and in blessed contrast to Pinkberry, they don't have thudding techno music preventing conversation.
The counter and menu are similar in structure to Pinkberry, which was similar in structure to Coldstone Creamery. You walk up, order a size, the corresponding cup is filled with frozen yogurt (represented by a cup display with what looks like cardboard poop), and you then pink (Freudian typo?) pick your toppings. Unlike Pinkberry, you don't have toppings included in sizes. You pay for a cup, $2.95 for the small, I forgot to write down the other prices, and then $1.00 for toppings. My small with three toppings cost me... oh, add the 2, carry the 12, I before E except after 9... $5.95. A little pricey, but as far as the dessert goes, comparable to Coldstone.
They have a good selection of fresh fruit. The usual suspects are present and accounted for, such as strawberries, raspberries, and bananas. They also have a selection of chocolate chips and cereals to add some crispiness to the yawgwert. The toppings were good. The strawberries were fresh and sweet, the raspberries were flavorful, and the chocolate chips were chocolately chippy. Unlike Pinkberry, the frozen yogurt here was much thicker and more yogurty. Pinkberry is very light, very tart, and crisp and icy. It's creamier, here, and not as tart. While I was initially upset that it wasn't as tart as P-Berry, it was still quite good. Different, but neither better nor worse. And, in retrospect, I wish I had gotten a large. The small I bought disappeared down my cavernous maw much too quickly.
I would assume that their smoothies are tasty, since good, fresh fruit is the most important part of any smoothie. According to an interview with the Brown University newspaper, the owners are planning a possible expansion to the menu in preparation for summer. If it's as good as everything else, I think we have a winner on our hands. That is, of course, until Pinkberry comes to town.
UPDATE 10/18/2008: Well I finally got around to posting their hours and also to report that they are free from the threat of any legal action taken by Pinkberry. The logo has been totally changed and is, in my opinion, more attractive. And is anyone as curious as I am to try and order some plain yogurt, then start chopping my own toppings on their counter just to see what they do?
Price range: $4-$10
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229 Thayer Street
Providence, RI 02906
Monday through Thursday 12:00pm to 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday 11:00am to 11:00pm
Sunday 11:00am to 10:00pm