Chobani's revamped retail store heats up 'yogurt wars'

Chobani has unveiled its remodeled yogurt cafe in Manhattan with an expanded menu and more seating, in the latest move to remain the top-selling Greek yogurt brand.

The expanded menu, developed by Ulukaya, features both sweet and savory Chobani Greek Yogurt creations, plus soups, sandwiches and desserts.

New to the menu are simits, a traditional Turkish street bread piled high with seasonal ingredients and hearty yogurt spreads, artisan soups infused with Chobani Greek Yogurt, as well as new sweet and savory yogurt creations handcrafted and made-to-order by "in-house yogurt masters." In addition, a new espresso bar will feature a custom coffee blend exclusive to Chobani SoHo, designed with its coffee partner, La Colombe Roasters.

The 825-square-foot cafe now also boasts additional seating and more interactive experiences including the Yogurt Bar, a Communal Harvest Table and the SoHo Lounge area with welcoming bench seats. The Pantry stocks custom Mediterranean spices, oils, nuts and other ingredients for purchase, and packaged Chobani Greek Yogurt can also be taken to go.

The yogurt bar first opened in 2012, becoming the first standalone retail store to be owned and operated by a yogurt company. The innovative concept serves up a wide array of yogurt-cup concoctions, topped with everything from peanut butter and jelly, to Turkish pistachios and chocolate.

After the remodel, the menu was expanded to include soups and sandwiches made with Greek yogurt, as well as an espresso bar. Of course, there's also plenty of Chobani Greek Yogurt available for purchase, along with a wider array of grab-and-go pantry items.

Chobani's retail effort has been a thorn in the side of rival yogurt companies Yoplait and Dannon which can't seem to gain enough market share to knock Chobani from the top spot. Last week, General Mills' Yoplait opened its own pop-up store in Manhattan, only a few steps away from Chobani's yogurt bar. Not to be outdone, Dannon parked a truck shaped like its Oikos Greek Yogurt around the corner to hand out free samples of its product, too.

The grand re-opening of Chobani SoHo comes just as the Winter Olympic games are scheduled to kick off on Feb. 7. Chobani is an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic team, but there's just one small problem: the Russian government won't allow Chobani Greek yogurt to be delivered to Sochi.

New York Senator Charles Schumer's office reports that a massive shipment of locally-produced Chobani yogurt is stuck in customs at the airport in Newark, NJ because of "unattainable" Russian Customs certifications. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has requested that Russia approve a USDA safety certificate for the yogurt, which would only be distributed to U.S. citizens in Sochi.

For more:
-See this Chobani press release
-See this New York Daily News article
-See this Wall Street Journal article

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