Now under new ownership, a familiar downtown frozen yogurt shop aims to offer more than just your traditional varieties of frosty treats. The new Bella’s Frozen Yogurt debuted on Oct. 1, recently adding creative items such as froyo infused with CBD – a non-psychoactive cannabinoid said to have a number of health benefits – to its seasonal, locally inspired selection of sweets.
“We wanted to open something that’s not your typical frozen yogurt shop, and we wanted it to be something everyone can enjoy. We have vegan, non-dairy, non-fat, gluten-free and kosher options available,” says Austin Blankenship, who co-owns the concept with his partner, Corey James. The Downtown St. Louis residents frequented the original Bella’s as customers until it closed a few years ago and decided to take over the space themselves to revitalize the long-vacant corner shop.
“We ended up keeping the name because our dog’s name is Bella, and we also kept the teal color of the room because she wears a Tiffany blue collar,” says Blankenship, whose experience in hospitality comes from serving as a McDonald’s supervisor for 14 years. James currently serves as the spa manager at Hotel Saint Louis.
The 1,000-square-foot space got an aesthetic facelift with the addition of some woodwork and white subway tile as well as colorful new tables and chairs. Around 20 seats occupy the room, which features four sets of froyo machines, a hot chocolate bar and a toppings bar.
The duo visited the headquarters of several major frozen yogurt suppliers before deciding on Honey Hill Farms in Arkansas, where they received training on how to personalize their own products in its test kitchen. At Bella’s, a dozen different flavors of froyo sold by the ounce are available on site.
“We use all natural, organic flavors,” Blankenship says. “All of our yogurts have active cultures in them. They’re all organic and most of our flavors have no added sugars – just the natural sugars from the dairy or from the fruits used to flavor them.”
Choose from options such as vegan five-spice with coconut, espresso, red velvet cake and pistachio. Toppings – 40 to 50 available in total – include everything from fresh fruit and chocolate to jalapeños and balsamic glaze. Try creative combinations like small-batch French toast frozen yogurt topped with warm syrup and chocolate-covered bacon pieces.
“We custom make a lot of our flavors. Our first collaboration was a Red Hot Riplets-flavored frozen yogurt,” says Blankenship. “We’re also the first ones in the country to make CBD-infused frozen yogurt. A lot of other ice cream companies use a CBD oil. We actually infuse CBD isolate into the frozen yogurt. It’s a powdered version that incorporates a lot more easily.”
Bella’s partnered with locally owned chain CBD Kratom to create the specialty cannabis compound product in flavors such as salted caramel and strawberry, selling 110 pints upon its initial release. The shop also offers a CBD-infused hot chocolate.
For another way to enjoy all that Bella’s has to offer, any combination of yogurt and toppings can also be turned into a smoothie, blended together with coconut milk. Last, but not least, “Fro Yo Dog” is a canine-friendly cup topped with a Milkbone or CBD dog treat – perfect for the Bella in your life.
Bella's Frozen Yogurt is open Monday through Thursday from 1 to 8pm, Friday from 1 to 10pm, Saturday from 2 to 10pm and Sunday from 2 to 8pm.
Bella's Frozen Yogurt, 1021 Washington Ave., Suite 100, Downtown, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.553.9261, bellasfroyo.fun