By Brian Coatney
Once upon a time, ice cream ruled, but in recent years, sweet ‘n’ creamy frozen yogurt has taken over with a growing band of customers. Tangy Roots, across the road from Sonic in Hopkinsville, happens to be the homegrown, froyo spot year-round.
Co-owner Austyn Roberts used to daydream all the time about different businesses, and it turned out his wife, Jenny, and their friends Thomas and Dana Douthitt were dreaming, too.
While doing their day jobs, they researched and visited frozen yogurt stores and began to put together their own business plan. Dana led the way in writing a plan that won the top spot and a $5,000 cash prize in a Christian County Chamber of Commerce competition for entrepreneurs.
The name Tangy Roots was a late night flash in Jenny’s mind after two notebook pages of names led to nothing exciting.
“Jenny popped up out of bed and said, ‘I’ve got it — Tangy Roots,’” Austyn said.
He remembers telling her it was a stupid name, but she asked him to hear her out. Soon Jenny was texting Dana in the middle of the night, and the name stuck.
The name itself actually dates to the 1970s, when yogurt almost didn’t survive because it was tangy and tart. Its comeback came once it became sugary, creamy and smooth. Tangy Roots is catchy, even if you don’t get it the first time you hear it.
Local investor Bill Munday also thought the name was a winner, along with the froyo, and he became a silent partner.
The plan was to open in September 2012, but construction pushed the grand opening back to Dec. 3. Winter might seem like an inauspicious time to open a frozen yogurt store. However, a swell of support for Tangy Roots was there, and lots of people came to volunteer and speed up the opening.
Tangy Roots has been going strong for three years now. It’s fun to get your own cup, pull the pump from a variety of flavors, and top the yogurt with a colorful assortment of options, ranging from syrups to candies to diced fruit and even nuts or cookies.
If you haven’t been to Tangy Roots, get ready for a surprise at the décor. You’ll be greeted by bright colors in an edgy combination with an artistic flare, while feeling comfy and casual at the same time. This is exactly what the owners intended — a different look.
It’s rumored that several young girls have decorated their bedrooms at home to look like their favorite yogurt hangout. Others collect the brightly colored yogurt cups and spoons.
Jenny is the general manager by consensus while Austyn, Thomas and Dana work other jobs on the side. They’ve all been vital in new ideas, such as adding hot chocolate, yo-cakes, pies and fro-yo-freezes to the menu. Be on the lookout for “Tangy to Go” for those who want to call in their order, pull into the parking lot and have it delivered to their vehicle.
The store also hopes to connect more with nightlife in the area, offering date night packages that pair froyo with a movie or bowling. In the meantime, consider it a spot for hosting a meeting or birthday party. The froyo machines are on wheels.
When it comes to customer favorites, the owners spout out sea salt caramel pretzel, white chocolate mousse, and dreamy dark chocolate. Eight to 10 flavors are featured at a time, including old standbys like vanilla, cookies and cream, and orange sorbet.
The No. 1 topping is “popping pearls,” which look like strawberry or orange fish eggs and explode in your mouth when chewed. Close seconds are the Reese’s bits and the maple walnuts.
You never know what serendipities might occur at Tangy Roots, and Thomas likes to think of it as his “fun job.”
“I love it that we make a stamp on the community,” Dana says. “I want kids when they grow up to tell their kids about coming here when they were growing up.”
Cherries on top
Many of the staff at Tangy Roots are young people, some for whom this is their first job, and the owners take pride in providing them with workforce skills.
Most of the time, the atmosphere is all that you would want from a dessert place.
Community connections are also on the hearts of the owners. The store has helped with fundraisers for the American Cancer Society, Pennyrile Children’s Advocacy Center, Relay for Life, and families seeking to adopt. The list is growing, and the owners have a deep sense of satisfaction in seeing some of the store’s proceeds go to community causes.
The staff even volunteers their tips as donations on certain days. Three of the staff have been employees the whole two years: Kristin Utley, Amber Bruce and Nick Bell.
Other awards won by Tangy Roots include the Chamber of Commerce Quality Service Award and the 2104 “Favorite Place for Dessert” by the Fort Campbell Courier.
Sea salt caramel pretzel
White chocolate mousse
Dreamy dark chocolate
Tangy Tuesday: Up to 15 ounces only $3.
BOGO 1/2 off when it’s snowing.
Sundays: 10 percent of sales go to a local church. Visit “Tangy Roots” Facebook page.
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday – Thursday
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday