Welcome to Fraiche Yogurt.
It's a quiet corner, unlike the trendy restaurant scene on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto. A blissful two blocks from this busy street lies a mecca for delicious treats. Step inside and the atmosphere is upbeat, comfortable and, well, 'fresh.'
Imagine a menu of simple comfort foods that focus on nutrition and flavor. Add two intelligent and thoughtful owners, and you have one exciting shop.
I had the pleasure of a meeting with Jessica and Patama, the genius behind Fraiche Yogurt, to learn more. They are celebrating a successful first year; Fraiche's birthday was yesterday!
Fraiche is different from the many 'natural' frozen yogurt shops popping up lately.
To begin with, they make their yogurt onsite daily (using organic Clover milk). But they do not stop there.
The menu also includes fresh yogurts (whole milk, 2%, and nonfat), Blue Bottle organic coffee, homemade granola, fresh chocolate chip cookies, and steel-cut oatmeal. This variety creates a steady flow of customers, from opening at 7:00 AM (9 on weekends) until 10:30 PM (11 weekends).
The store has gained a following in the local neighborhood and beyond; click here for the rave reviews on Yelp. Patama and Jessica have made friends with many regulars, and passion for their business and its concept is apparent from the moment you meet them. They made nutrition first priority, followed by flavor; not true with many similar shops who concentrate on taste and don't worry about health. They know exactly what goes into their product since they make it themselves. The result- food that is good for your body and your palate.
It is clearly a labor of love for these two friends. Neither is from the area (Jessica hails from New York, Patama from St. Louis) but they selected Palo Alto for its location (family-friendly and central within the Bay Area) and clientele (intelligent and health-conscious). They each live minutes away and spend long hours in the store creating their product and working behind the counter. It is work they enjoy, on a business concept they believe in.
I walked into the store a few minutes before 8:00 AM this morning. The friendly staff were busily preparing yogurt and freshening the toppings bar. What time do customers begin to arrive? "About 8:00 it will get pretty busy," said Claire, one employee at Fraiche. "People come in to get their coffee before work, or breakfast. Also from several gyms in the area, after a morning workout, for oatmeal and yogurt." Their pride in the shop and its owners is clear when I ask to see them.
While I wait, I enjoy observing the bustle in the store:
A man in biking gear walks in and orders a lowfat yogurt with almonds and blueberries. He takes it out front and pulls out his iPhone to do email and enjoy breakfast.
Another man, this one in a suit, settles down by the window and plugs in his laptop. He's at home, this must be his usual spot.
Two young women get frozen yogurt with chocolate shavings- at 8:00 am! I should have introduced myself, these are my kind of girls. :-)
The Clover milk delivery truck parks in front to delivers gallons of delicious ingredients.
It's later than usual for me and I'm hungry; my plan was to order the steel-cut oatmeal. But Patama and Claire both mentioned a 'half-oatmeal half-yogurt' combination, a little-known yet popular item. So, I had a junior size (4 oz) half-oatmeal, half low-fat yogurt, with some apricot puree.
I left with my breakfast, to walk and enjoy the shady street as I ate.
After a few steps, I had to sit down to give this breakfast the full attention it deserved.
This is craveable. I cannot think of a more appropriate word, especially since I am wanting some as I write this.
Warm, textured oats layered with tangy yogurt, and a kiss of sweet apricot puree. I was able to eat all three in every bite, and it was gone far too soon.
But I enjoyed every morsel.
Look for Fraiche Yogurt at Palo Alto's Sunday Farmer's Market, on California Avenue, where you can purchase containers of yogurt as well as dips and spreads. Jessica and Patama hope to open another location sometime in the future, so keep your ears open!
In the meantime, NH and I will be back soon for breakfast or an after-dinner treat. If you see us, say hello.