Serving Innuendo: Cups Frozen Yogurt

The frozen yogurt chain is booming, but some are turned off by their sexy marketing.

Hiring poster at a Cups store in New Jersey.

Business is booming at Cups, the rapidly growing New Jersey-based chain where young women in low-cut tank tops serve frozen yogurt—and perhaps the suggestion of something more.

The chain, which opened its first store in Clifton in 2010, now has 11 locations throughout the state—including three that have opened since March—and recently expanded into New York. Five more locations are due to open in New Jersey in the coming months in Edison, Freehold, Hillsborough, Hoboken and Point Pleasant. The chain also plans for locations in California and Florida.

The company’s tag line is “Frozen Yogurt—That’s Hot,” and the menu includes suggestions like, “Size matters… fill your cup,” and, “Don’t go topless… sprinkle on your favorite toppings.” The evocative logo of two cups piled high with frozen yogurt is reminiscent of other “breastaurants”—industry jargon for sports bars such as Hooters and Texas-based chain Twin Peaks. Indeed, Cups has been referred to in the media as “the Hooters of Frozen Yogurt.” But while those other establishments target 21-plus males, Cups attracts a wider audience, from teens to families.

Cups is owned by the Livingston-based Briad Group, the service and hospitality company behind the T.G.I. Friday’s and Wendy’s franchises. In a press release, president and COO Rick Barbrick explains that Cups sets itself apart from other fro-yo joints by selling “an experience.” The stores have a trendy feel, with pulsing club music and nostalgic beach-themed décor to complement the enthusiastic staff.

A 19-year-old woman working behind the counter at the Morristown location says mostly families come into the store during the day, but things can get a little rowdy at night. Located on bustling South Street between three popular bars and open until 11 pm on weekends, Cups often attracts men who harass the workers, says the teen, who chose to remain anonymous. “My friend had to kick out a group of guys who wouldn’t stop hitting on her,” she says.

Customers outside the Morristown store say they enjoy the variety of flavors, like eggnog, root beer float and Thin Mint cookie. But some are turned off by the store’s sexy innuendo.

“I didn’t notice [the theme] until a coworker pointed it out,” says one 49-year-old mom. “The next day I saw the sexy ‘Now Hiring’ poster on the window and knew I wouldn’t go back there again.”

Cups officials were not available for comment.

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