16 Handles, the New York self-serve frozen yogurt company, celebrates the grand opening of its new branch at 2600 Broadway and 98th Street, and announces plans to open two additional outposts in New York City before Memorial Day. One will be in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (349 Court Street), and the other in Chelsea (178 8th Avenue).
There will be a total of 10 NYC 16 Handles locations before summer.
16 Handles also appoints New York City-trained pastry chef and dessert connoisseur Robynne Maii to develop the company’s Chef-inspired product line. Maii’s inaugural culinary creation—Smoked Almond Brittle—hits stores today.
The crunchy caramel micro-batch topping is the first of 16 Handles’ proprietary dessert offerings. Micro-batch toppings are gourmet, artisanal treats that are produced in small quantities from exclusive, proprietary recipes developed by Maii. The company will launch one new topping at a time on a limited quantity basis.
“We want to be at the forefront of dessert innovations and evolving food trends, which are usually led by culinary chefs and not expected from a frozen yogurt shop,” says Solomon Choi, the company’s founder. “Working with Chef Robynne allows us to be even more cutting-edge and push the envelope when it comes to new flavors and new toppings.”
Chef Robynne Maii trained under celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito at Union Pacific restaurant before becoming a professor of culinary arts at Kingsborough College, a contributing cookbook writer at Wiley Publishing, and a judge for the annual James Beard Awards.
She will work with 16 Handles to create new products and yogurt flavors that push the 16 Handles brand into new culinary territory.
“Chef Robynne’s mastery of the pastry arts and her insight into the latest food trends enables our brand to introduce new and groundbreaking products to the frozen yogurt market,” says Choi, who founded the company in 2008 and grew the brand from one location in Manhattan’s East Village to 21 stores across six states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Florida, Maryland, New York, and Massachusetts.
Maii’s personal love for smokehouse almonds as a satisfying, heart-healthy snack inspired the Smoked Almond Brittle idea.
After playing around with several recipes in her Brooklyn kitchen before settling on this reinterpreted version of the traditional peanut brittle, Maii’s original formula will be offered for a limited time only as a micro-batch across all 16 Handles locations.
As 16 Handles continues to develop its menu, customers will notice a greater focus on seasonal produce, multi-cultural ingredients, and new and usual chef-developed combinations.
Since spring is prime maple syrup-tapping season, the yogurt flavor-of-the-month for April is Maple Crème. Its sweetness pairs perfectly with the smoky, savory taste profile of the Smoked Almond Brittle—a combination that most customers probably won’t think to put together on their own.
“Our goal is to offer intriguing flavors that push the boundaries of what you can do with frozen yogurt,” Maii says. “We want to serve sexy, fun options that cannot be found anywhere else.”
Another example of how 16 Handles is further distinguishing itself is the recently launched Whip Up! product, a spoon-able blended-yogurt treat that is prepared by a machine that mixes a guest’s yogurt and toppings into an evenly distributed frozen dessert.
These menu additions to the 16 Handles food program coincide with the company’s rapid growth into new markets. 16 Handles opened its first location in 2008 and the second one in 2009. In 2010, the company opened three more stores and began franchising. The chain grew to 14 locations in 2011 and it added another six stores within the first quarter of 2012.
It will open 12 more locations by the end of this summer.