Churned-to-order frozen yogurt shop Loving Cup, which operates four stores in San Francisco, plans to expand to more than 100 locations in the next few years with investment and guidance from cafe chain La Boulangerie.
La Boulangerie partners Nicolas Bernadi and Pascal Rigo say they became fans of the frozen yogurt shop — which is owned by couple Liz and Dez Fiedler — as the result of frequent visits from their cafe to the nearby Hayes Valley Loving Cup location. Now they’ll work together to franchise Loving Cup, starting with more stores in the Bay Area.
“We were going to Loving Cup all the time in the afternoon,” Bernadi recalls to Eater SF. “We always loved the product, the creaminess, it’s probiotic. You can blend whatever you want into it, and an hour later you feel great.”
Soon, that short walk won’t be necessary: Loving Cup will be available inside La Boulangerie stores, a process that’s already started with the cafe’s FiDi location. It’s a partnership that customers can taste, with La Boulangerie swirling its baked goods like brownies and cookies into Loving Cup’s yogurt. More combinations, like banana bread, could be to come.
After Rigo’s brush with massive scale at Starbucks, which bought its previous incarnation of the La Boulangerie brand (RIP La Boulange) for $100 million, Bernadi says the partners know what it takes to expand a small brand with a quality product. “How do we make sure we can support the growth of the concept and maintain a strong identity?” Bernadi asks rhetorically. Some answers include “high quality products, great employee culture, and operational excellence,” but he admits “it’s hard.”
“It’s an exciting challenge, and we love the product, so if we could see it everywhere, we would be very happy, selfishly,” says Bernadi. And Loving Cup isn’t the only brand La Boulangerie could take an interest in expanding. “We could definitely do this for other brands,” Bernadi says. “We’re looking for concepts with high quality products that can scale by supporting operations, marketing, and customer experience.”
Stay tuned for news on new locations, which Loving Cup will reportedly franchise for $30,000 up front and a seven percent royalty. Like branches of La Boulangerie, they’ll adhere to a general design theme, but be tailored to their neighborhood.