(RestaurantNews.com) In 2008, 16 Handles opened its first store in Manhattan’s East Village, bringing self-serve frozen yogurt to New York for the very first time. With nine other frozen dessert shops within a four-block radius of the first store, competition was fierce. Ten years later, of the nine, only 16 Handles remains. Their successful model swiftly spawned hundreds of imitators in the tristate area.
By 2013, 16 Handles had 40 locations across the East Coast, allowing local entrepreneurs an opportunity to build and grow their businesses as part of the 16 Handles brand family. In 2015, 16 Handles expanded internationally, opening three additional locations in the Middle East. Always innovating, 16 Handles was the first brand to use Snapchat for a marketing campaign in 2013. In 2016, they became the first frozen yogurt franchise to combine mobile payment with rewards using their mobile phone application. Consistently voted the best frozen yogurt shop in the Manhattan Awards and across other markets, the brand has also partnered with dessert concepts like Mochidoki and T-Swirl Crepe for collaborative spaces, expanding their dessert offerings to include Japanese mochi ice cream and crepes. Each 16 Handles store offers 16 flavors of soft-serve and over 50 toppings, sold by weight, as well as smoothies, milkshakes, cakes, and frozen novelties.
In celebration of the brand’s ten year anniversary, the original 16 Handles in the East Village has now been remodeled with a fresh new look, complete with custom neon signs, the brand’s signature bold colors, and exposed brick. The store also launched a counter-serve pop-up called Sugalips, offering a Galaxy Collection of dessert treats that was featured by the likes of Food Network and INSIDER Dessert.
16 Handles has a commitment to quality and began working with an in-house chef to create an Artisan Collection of handcrafted flavors in 2013. Since then, the brand’s flavor library has expanded to over a hundred flavors and counting. Most recently, they’ve expanded their offerings to include a variety of formats, including ice cream, gelato, and custard flavors exclusive to 16 Handles. The brand has worked with chefs like Food Network’s Duff Goldman and partnered with brands like Nutella, Lotus Biscoff, Welch’s, AriZona, SkinnyGirl, and Dannon.
16 Handles also prides itself on going beyond the cup by engaging local and national organizations in partnerships and fundraisers, including an enduring commitment to environmental sustainability focused around their work with Trees for the Future.
“We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has shared in our story—our brand partners, local store owners and teams, and most importantly, our loyal customers, who have embraced 16 Handles as part of their communities and celebrations throughout the years,” says CE-Yo and founder Solomon Choi.
Grounded in ten years of NYC heritage, 16 Handles continues to expand and innovate both within and beyond their DIY-dessert format. Here’s to every “treat yo’self!”, every extra scoop of cookie dough, and every time you lost count of all the flavors in your cup. Here’s to ten years of 16 Handles!