By Cameron Black│Orange Media Network
First place: Yogurt Extreme
In 2010, Jane Humphreys sat in yogurt shops around California while on vacation thinking about what kind of business she wanted to open, and over 10 years later, Humphreys and her sister, Jennifer Rampone, own three of the Yogurt Extreme shops in and around Corvallis and Albany, Ore.
“I wanted to have a change in life and do a job that was fun and I was tired of doing a job just to make money,” Humphreys said. “My sister just turned around to me one day and said ‘Why don’t we just open frozen yogurt stores?’ and I thought it was crazy of her… but that’s how we ended up opening this place.”
Six months after the location on Monroe Avenue launched, the second location launched on Circle Avenue. followed by another shop in Albany, Ore.
The process is simple, customers grab a cup and fill it up, add toppings, and then weigh and pay. The price is determined by the ounce, with the standard being 48 cents per ounce. There are also options to substitute the cup for a cake cone or waffle cone, for no additional price.
The toppings range from sweets like sprinkles and chocolate chips, to fresh fruit options as well.
“Our mission is to always have a fun place for all people to go regardless of diet restrictions – we always have Dairy Free, Vegan & No Sugar Added options,” according to Humphreys.
“I like the variety here, I can come in for something more chocolatey and sweet or fruity and a little bit healthier if I want to,” said Jessica Mullins, a fourth-year bio-engineering major at OSU.
Despite the variety and quality of the frozen yogurt offered at Yogurt Extreme, the environment in the shop is what draws students and community members in.
As far as interacting with students goes, Humphreys does so by hiring mostly current OSU students. According to Humphreys, there are other ways they interact with students as well. “We have fun pictures rotating in the store of students and we host events for the university groups such as the Pink Spring Break party for the last three years and fundraiser dine ins.”
“Between everybody, we’re really like a family here,” said Shea Binder, an OSU student and ‘swirlmaster’ at Yogurt Extreme. “Jane makes sure everyone has the schedule we need and it’s great because we close so much later so we can still get those hours in.”
With business hours of noon to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and noon to midnight on Thursday through Saturday, the shop is filled with students at late hours of the night, according to Humphreys.
Due to the heavy traffic of students coming in for a late-night treat, Humphreys said she “found that it was really hard for the rest of the community [because] they said it was too hard to find parking,” which led her to open the location on Circle Avenue.
Since opening the second location, the aura of the original Yogurt Extreme has changed to comply with the type of environment she believes college students are more comfortable with.
“I’m more relaxed with the music so it’s more fun and outgoing and what the students would want to hear, and I have a lot of employees who just really enjoy sticking with their own age group and interacting with OSU students,” Humphreys said.
The OSU spirit is seen in even the decorations in the shop, ranging from different autographed athletic calendars from student-athletes, to a slideshow of students and other community members on constant circulation.
“I wanted this to be a place for everyone… if you’re not a drinker, if you’re not above 21, it’s somewhere you can come and hang out because we’re open so late,” Humphreys said.
Second place: Benny’s Donuts
After its launch in January of 2016, local donut shop Benny’s Donuts has grown exponentially, landing a spot as one of the top three sweet shops in Corvallis, voted by OSU students.
When you walk into the shop, located on third and Monroe, the words “Hot. Fresh. Fancy.” are written on the chalkboard next to a plethora of different donut options.
The motto was created by Benny Augeri, an OSU alumnus and founder of Benny’s Donuts, and accurately describes the preparation and selection of donuts offered. Every day, each donut is made fresh and dipped to order at a customer’s request with options to add on extra toppings at no charge, or sub for a gluten-free, vegan dough option.
“I was so excited when this place opened up… I’m a gluten free person and so I hadn’t had donuts in years,” said Linda Richards, an instructor at OSU. “Benny’s used only be able to make small batches of gluten-free donuts, so they would run out. But now they provide them anytime, so I am happy anyone can get one anytime.” Richards added that “Benny’s is a wonderful, welcoming environment for doing work, daydreaming and writing. I love having meetings there.”
Benny’s offers a variety of different choices for donuts, along with a seasonal menu that changes every month. December’s menu displayed flavors like peppermint chocolate, gingerbread, and very merry cranberry, all displaying their own holiday spirit.
With each donut only costing $2.29, most people who come into the shop leave with more than one. There are also options to get an assorted half dozen for $11.99 or a full dozen for $19.99.
“My favorite one is the Canadian Maple Seasalt, but they’re all really good it’s hard to pick,” Richards said.
To complement any of the donuts, Benny’s Donuts also sells coffee sourced from local grinds in Portland. The options range from the typical cold brew to specialty blended drinks, all made in house.
Benny’s Donuts is open six days a week, with limited hours on Sundays and the shop being closed on Mondays.
Third place: Cold Stone
Despite it being a franchise, Cold Stone Creamery on ninth street has its own local flare and campus-centered environment, yet far enough away to appeal to local Corvallis residents.
The unique part of the shop is the ice cream itself, and the variety offered when creating a custom scoop. Customers can choose between 10 to 12 different flavors depending on seasonal flavors, and then mix in their choice of toppings.
The mix-ins range from peanuts and pecans, to commercial candy such as Oreos and Reese’s Pieces. Customers can include fresh fruit into their creations by requesting so.
“Not many ice cream places get to mixes all the candies that they want, I like to call it the ‘Subway of Ice Cream’” said Kylee Dubal, the manager at the Corvallis Cold Stone.
Along with unique mixtures, Cold Stone offers pre-mixed options which they call Signature Creations. For the holidays, the “Dough! Ho! Ho!” and “Chilly Chocolate Mint” were featured on the Signature Creations menu, with options to change or substitute any extra toppings.
According to Dubal, the busiest time of the year is at the end of the summer when college students are coming back to campus, and late-night on the weekends. Even though the shop sits over two miles from campus, there is still a combination of college students and community members coming in for a sweet snack.
The typical sizing options for the normal build-your-own creations range from like it, love it and gotta have it, their own versions of small, medium and large. There are also options to make a pint for nine dollars.
Dubal said that what makes Corvallis’ Cold Stone unique is that “it’s all student based… it’s fast paced and people get excited to see what we do.”