James Chen has lived all over the United States, all over the world. He moved from southeastern China to New York in the mid-'80s, and spent the last couple decades in Rhode Island, then California and, most recently, Iowa, where he owned and operated a successful Chinese buffet.
In spring of 2009, Chen decided to move to Pittsburgh with his wife and young son. He had resolved to open a trendy, Cali-style frozen yogurt shop in a U.S. city with an as-yet untapped market. And, after visiting everywhere from Boston, Mass. and Ithaca, N.Y, to Columbus, Ohio and Penn State, Chen determined Pittsburgh is that ideal market.
Chen plans to open Razzy Fresh, at 1717 Murray Ave. (the previous spot of A & A Mailing Services) in Squirrel Hill by the end of December 2009. He says he picked Pittsburgh because "the economy feels strong and the customer base feels right. Squirrel Hill has a lot of pedestrian traffic and a lot of young people in the neighborhood year-round, even when the universities are not in session."
Razzy Fresh's 700-square-foot shop is located a couple storefronts down from the flagship Dozen. Razzy Fresh features DIY toppings, and a bright, cheerful interior designed by Squirrel Hill architect Allen Dunn, who has his offices above Pamela's on Forbes Avenue. South Side-based design firm ocreations created Razzy Fresh's logo and branding.
Razzy Fresh joins several other established frozen treat purveyors in Squirrel Hill, including Baskin-Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery, Ben & Jerry's and Rita's Italian Ice, all of which are located within a block radius of Razzy Fresh.
One of Pittsburgh's other options for Razzy Fresh's tart, Pinkberry-style yogurt is Karmic Yogurt. The shop is located at 713 1/2 Filbert St. just off Walnut Street, in Shadyside. Karmic, which Pittsburgh native Matt Yang opened in spring 2009, is closing for the winter on Dec. 16, and will re-open in March.
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Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: James Chen, Razzy Fresh; Shawn O'Mara, ocreations
Image courtesy of Razzy Fresh