Just when it seemed that the Dinkydome was doomed to a fate of being the only business center in town to lose more tenants in a year than Block E, construction on the neighboring apartment building reached completion, and along came a new slew of shiny storefronts, like CVS Pharmacy and Erbert and Gerbert's. But perhaps none was as highly anticipated as Chilly Billy's, the new frozen yogurt shop whose window signs have been promising a spring opening for months. They threw open their doors on April 2, and it's safe to say that the corner of 15th Ave SE and University is back with a vengeance.
The Chilly Billy concept was born two years ago, when owners Bill and Amy Marker visited a self-serve frozen yogurt shop on a trip to Arizona. "It was super cool," says Bill Marker. "It was crowded, people seemed happy. I thought it was a great idea, and there was nothing like it around here." So they set out to change that.
The shop was originally planned to open in Shakopee, but when Marker saw the "space available" signs on the corner of 15th and University avenues, he jumped at the opportunity to be near the U of M campus. A big Gophers fan, he's already cultivating relationships with the student athletes he expects to comprise the majority of his clientele. He says frozen yogurt is a great snack for active and health-conscious people, as it's low in calories and high in probiotics.
Chilly Billy's offers 10 flavors of frozen yogurt, as well as five combinations of flavors (chocolate and peanut butter are situated side by side, for instance, each with their own lever, and one lever between the two that emits a Chocolate Peanut Butter swirl). Each yogurt is well labeled with a variety of facts, including whether it is nonfat or low fat, gluten or sugar free, and whether it contains nuts. The flavors range from tart (Pomegranate Raspberry) to sweet (New York Cheesecake) and can be sampled for free.
There are about 40 choices of toppings, including fruit, candy, nuts, cookie dough, and fudge brownie bits. Everything is self-serve, and once you've concocted the perfect cocktail of frozen yogurt and toppings, it is priced by weight (45 cents per ounce). Chilly Billy's also offers self-serve cappuccino and five flavors of coffee (competitively priced at less than $2 for a large cup).
And how have things been going so far? "I had to run to the grocery store three times in the first couple of days because we ran out of strawberries," said Marker. "People love it. They're going like hotcakes. One guy has already filled up his 'Buy 10, Get One Free' punch card, and we've only been open for three days."
Chilly Billy's Frozen Yogurt 314 15th Ave SE, Minneapolis 612.843.4278 Chilly Billy's website