Yogurt is being served up at Seattle's Pike Place in ways you never imagined.
Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt Shop is unlike any other yogurt experience you've been a part of in your life, offering a major upgrade from the tired bowl of vanilla-meets-granola (and some fresh berries if you're lucky) you've had at weekend brunch spot. It's also an incredibly far cry from the vast majority of what you'll find on supermarket refrigerator shelves. Why? Well, it's actually good.
"Ellenos uses a traditional Greek yogurt recipe and a hand-crafted process which has been handed down in the Apostolopoulos family for generations," shares Alex Apostolopoulos, co-founder of Ellenos, a local Seattle sensation that's now making its way to national grocery aisles. "All our yogurts are made with fresh milk that is sourced directly from a single local farmer and is naturally fermented with live, active cultures that give the base product a creamy texture. We also source our fruit and toppings seasonally and locally by working with like-minded farmers and purveyors who share our love for vibrant, fresh, real flavors."
It's those very real, natural-tasting flavors that have been bringing customers into the Ellenos Real Yogurt Shop at Pike Place Market in Seattle since 2013.
"We have been hand-straining Greek yogurt for generations— using and evolving family recipes that were passed down through my father’s family. They brought this tradition to Australia when his family immigrated to Australia from Greece. The yogurt instantly became a hit. Our business, and Ellenos, started when Yvonne Klein, one of our business partners, smuggled one of our creamy yogurts home every time she flew from Sydney, Australia to the Pacific Northwest as a flight attendant in the late 1990s. After one spoonful, she was hooked. She flew home and raved to her husband, Bob, and they hatched a plan. It took nearly ten years but eventually, my father and I moved to Seattle to team up with Yvonne and Bob. The result was a brand new yogurt company that combined our traditional Greek yogurt recipe and handcrafted process with local ingredients and distinctly Pacific Northwest flavors."
Fast forward nine years and the little shop that could in Seattle is now a destination eatery for yogurt fanatics, those of Greek heritage seeking the flavors and scents of childhood favorites, and foodies looking to branch out and show their treasured social media followings something new, something different.
"Ellenos has become a cult-favorite for many locals and tourists who visit Pike Place Market. We often get returning customers and because our fans are so loyal and are always telling their friends and family to come down and try our yogurt at the market, we continue to have a successful business," details Apostolopoulos, adding that their unique flavors like Marionberry Pie and seasonal favorites like Strawberry Shortcake offer no shortage of local excitement and social media fanfare. "We are constantly working to create new and exciting flavors."
Best-selling varieties like Lemon Curd, Vanilla Bean, and Passion Fruit are are constant menu offerings, with other dessert-worthy varieties like Coffee and Marionberry also gaining such popularity that the company has launched them in packaged form for Whole Foods shelves around the country.
"It's hands-down the best yogurt I've ever tasted," says Dawn Karole, a food wholesaler who has visited the Pike Place Market but calls New York home. "I don't know why it's so much creamier than anything I've ever tasted, but it is, and now that I know I can order it from Whole Foods, I'm back to going through at least 10 of them per week in my house. They're a little pricier than the average store-bought yogurt, but worth every penny and then some once you try one."
It's true that you can buy Ellenos yogurts on Amazon Fresh for about two and a half dollars per generously sized cup, but if you're in Washington State, the real magic happens at the Pike Place store.
"The scoop shop at Pike Place Market is actually really an open-air stall,” says Apostolopoulos. "We face the iconic Pike Place sign, and serve our yogurt directly to consumers from a beautiful 20-foot case traditionally used for gelato. It looks more like an ice cream shop case than a fresh yogurt case. All our decadent and delicious flavors are very similar to what you’d find in an ice cream shop, including lots of different toppings."
There is no seating available at the Pike Place Market stall, but customers are welcome to stand on the street around the shop as they enjoy their yogurt, snap a pic of their Ellenos cups with the Pike Place Market sign in the background, and then run home to all their friends and tell them how their outlook on yogurt is likely changed forever.
Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt Shop is open Wednesday through Sunday each week from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm at Pike Place Market.
Have you tried Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt before or are you looking forward to visiting their stall in the Pike Place Market now that the country is #reopening? We'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.