873 Swarthmore Ave.
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
By ALISON ROWE | Special to the Palisadian-Post
Question: Why does a successful commercial real estate agent decide to open a frozen yogurt shop?
Answer: “I’m a big fan of yogurt,” Kevin Sabin, owner of The Yogurt Shoppe, said.
The Sabin family has lived in El Medio Bluffs for some 17 years, and it was due to a strong commitment to Pacific Palisades as a community that Sabin opened The Yogurt Shoppe seven years ago.
He noticed that The Village had few places for the kids to hang out informally after school without becoming hyper-caffeinated. A father of three, he also noticed the lack of healthier alternatives to the chips and cookies that make up the typical after school snack.
He set about sourcing yogurt bases and flavors, and The Shoppe took shape.
As an artist who worked in animation, the visuals of The Shoppe were important to Sabin. Large-scale archival photographs of the Palisades from the 1920s and earlier show the innocent pleasures of village life, and take Sabin back to his own childhood in Brooklyn, New York, and the ice cream stands of Brighton Beach.
The decor is clean and uncluttered, with black-and-white subway tile also channeling the New York aesthetic. However, sharing the limelight with the ices is the riotous “Froyo Wall of Fame,” featuring on-the-spot photos of yogurt consumption by regulars and local celebrities.
The yogurts are all self-serve and soft serve. They come in a variety of flavors, from mild but tangy Original Tart to Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Salted Caramel.
Toppings range from the Wonka-like trays of gummy bears and candy rocks to fruits, boba and chocolates—and if you really feel like gilding the lily, there are sweet and runny sauces from honey to hot marshmallow.
Vegans and the lactose intolerant may be weeping tears of frustration at this point, but there are very delicious options that do not involve anything milk-related.
A mouth-filling Blueberry Sorbet, made with churned fresh fruit, is both refreshing and virtuous. The best-selling Jennifer’s Vegan Peanut Butter, named for his wife, is made with coconut milk, yielding a creamy, nutty treat.
If the temptation of the Reese’s Pieces is likely to be too much to bear, Sabin recommends ordering from food services. The Yogurt Shoppe works with Grubhub, Postmates, DoorDash and Uber Eats to keep a little distance between you and the toppings.
Sabin is proud that all of the flavors are created in house, every day, from fresh local produce, which he sees as the essence of community.
“The servers are local kids. The fruit and the baked goods are from the local bakery. It’s about a local business that’s been here forever and will be here forever,” he explained.
In a thoughtful move, The Yogurt Shoppe has benches on the sidewalk outside, a departure from the usual small tables and chairs, which, Sabin has noticed, tend to be occupied by one person and a newspaper. Benches, in his view, encourage sharing and conversation.
This he gives as one reason The Yogurt Shoppe began staying open until 9 p.m., a move that was initially regarded by other storeowners as a business mistake, but has since become more commonplace.
As the business and clientele grows, so do the opportunities. The Shoppe now attracts athletes who come in for yogurt after training. The junior Sabins—Frankie (16), Oliver (15) and Sadie (12)—are involved in track events, baseball and swimming at Palisades Charter High School.
The next stop for The Yogurt Shoppe is super-nutritious yogurts with optional protein supplements.
“Anything to get protein down them,” Sabin said, nodding towards his daughter, Sadie.
Then there is the fundraising. Every month The Yogurt Shoppe holds a Happy Hour Fundraiser, where 15 percent of the proceeds go to support select local charities and schools.
April is Autism Awareness Month, in honor of which The Shoppe will “go blue” to raise funds for Working With Autism clinic founded by Jennifer Sabin, which offers services and support for children and families with developmental disorders. We are promised lots of blue toppings.
To date, The Yogurt Shoppe has raised over $62,000 for the community. This model, of providing an after school hub and giving something back, has obviously been successful since The Yogurt Shoppe opened a second branch in Brentwood in 2016.
It seems we’re all big fans of The Yogurt Shoppe!