The fresh juice chain Nekter Juice Bar will launch a new frozen dessert on Friday that executives hope will be a game-changer in the yogurt/ice cream niche.
Nekter’s 77 units will begin serving what the company has dubbed Skoop, an all-natural, non-dairy frozen treat with a cashew-milk base that is handmade in small batches.
The debut flavors are Viva Vanilla and Chocolate Bliss. Later this summer, Nekter will introduce the seasonal flavor Blue Vanilla, made with blue green algae, and Charcoal, a black version made with coconut water, as limited-time offers.
Toppings will also be offered, from syrups and fruit to cocoa nibs and coconut. A 5-ounce serving of Skoop has about 180 calories.
“While most people desire to live a healthy lifestyle, most still have that sweet tooth that needs to be satisfied in some capacity,” said Steve Schulze, Nekter’s co-founder and CEO. “With Skoop, it was Nekter’s desire to reinvent the yogurt/ice cream space with a natural offering that was completely different from anything out there.”
Because of its limited fat content, the Skoop base wouldn’t freeze well in a regular frozen-yogurt machine, Schulze said. Instead, the company found a proprietary Italian machine that produces a creamy product, similar to gelato.
The machines are available in about half of the chain’s units, and will be rolled out to the remaining locations within the next few months, he said.
With juice sales strong in the mornings, the addition of Skoop offers an opportunity for boosting sales later in the day, Schulze said.
With the new platform, units will also expand their hours. Most locations have traditionally closed at 7 p.m., but hours will be extended to 9 p.m., or 10 p.m. in some markets, to accommodate guests looking for an after-dinner treat.
Even without Skoop, Nekter’s same-store sales year-to-date rose 5.6 percent, Schulze said. Nekter units, which are generally about 1,200 square feet, are generating average unit volumes of about $850,000.
Santa Ana, Calif.-based Nekter expects to finish the year with about 100 locations, approximately half of which are franchised. The chain was named a Nation’s Restaurant News Hot Concept in 2016.
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