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Friday, November 21, 2008

A Pinkberry on Every Corner

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Or something like that. I went to Abbot Kinney Blvd for dinner last night. I love that stretch of shops and restaurants in Venice, Ca. Over the years the area seemed to somehow resist the growing intrusion of corporate chains and is home to many specialty furniture, craft, and boutique stores as well as up and coming restaurants - most notably the recently opened Gjelina and AK Restaurant and Bar.

As I surveyed the street at night a brightly lit store stood out from the rest with its signature green and blue stripe facade and ubiquitous trademark. Pinkberry is definitely a chain but I was a bit surprised at how it made no effort to blend in to Venice's artsy neighborhood. The first thought that came to my mind was how similar it was to Starbucks. Not too surprising since Starbuck's founder, Howard Schultz, has famously invested $27.5 million in Pinkberry from his venture capital firm. I see that Mr. Schultz has left his mark on his investment making Pinkberry as accessible as Starbucks has become - with one on every corner.

I actually like Pinkberry's frozen yogurt quite a bit but it had more appeal to me as the fun, upstart company founded by a young Korean couple. Now that they have honed its brand, design, and image I feel like it has lost its innocence and I hope its presence on this street is not a sign of what's to come.

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