White Hat goes beyond yogurt with waffles, cakes

Posted at 08/21/14 8:08 PM

The yogurt muffin is one of the new items offered by White Hat. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – There is more to The White Hat these days than just frozen yogurt.

The homegrown frozen yogurt brand has expanded its menu to include hot food and beverages like waffles and chocolate drinks in some of its bigger outlets such as the ones in Alabang Town Center and Shangri-La Plaza.

The White Hat was among the pioneers of frozen yogurt in the Philippines when it opened at the SM Mall of Asia.

“Five years ago, everybody was buying yogurt lang,” The White Hat marketing manager Eric Chao told ABS-CBNnews.com. “But now they want something more.”

Apart from the bigger menu, they also made their outlets “very friendly to hang out.”

“So you come here, we something for everyone. If you don’t like yogurt, we have other items for our customers, old and young,” Chao said.

The White Hat outlet at Shangri-La Plaza. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com

He also noted that it makes business sense to expand its offerings. For instance, customers looking for something more filling will have to go elsewhere and perhaps return after they have eaten. “Sayang ‘yung time so we decided we have to answer their demands,” Chao said.

Chao admitted that the fro-yo craze has hit a “plateau,” pointing out that some of its competitors who took advantage of the popularity of frozen yogurt have since closed shop.

“I think they just want to get on the trend,” he said of the many fro-you shops that have opened – and closed. “Actually ganito ‘yan: If you want to do a yogurt business, you can do it the easy way, or you can do it the hard way. Siyempre a lot of companies they want to do it the easy way. What do you mean by easy way? You know buying instant yogurt mix then buying a small machine and selling it as a yogurt drink. Pero there’s no quality, di ba?”

Adding more items

The expansion of The White Hat’s menu didn’t happen overnight as new items were introduced in phases.

In fact, it was more of a natural progression. From the standard fro-yo cups, The White Hat came up with smoothies two years ago. Then they added coffee drinks because there was a demand from some of the parents who were accompanying their kids.

“Then to go along with the hot drinks, we came up with this, our first waffle line,” Chao said, pointing to White Hat’s dessert waffles which come with yogurt swirls instead of ice cream.

Chao explained that their outlets are not equipped to handle complicated food.

“If you’re in the business like this, you have some limitations. You cannot cook heavy food. You can’t do frying. Wala kaming kitchen range. Wala kaming ventilation. So we have to think of products that can fit our current equipment,” he said.

The White Hat's waffle sandwiches. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com

After coming up with the home-style dessert waffles, White Hat tweaked this further to create sourdough waffle sandwiches for those looking for a light, healthy meal. The White Hat offers two variants: Creamy Chicken & Apples (P175), which features poached chicken breast, crisp apple slices and yogurt-mayo; and the Curry Tuna & Cranberries (P175), which also uses yogurt mayo.

“We got inspired by the Japanese cafes,” Chao said of the unique sandwiches. “One of our partners who went to Japan and he saw some of the cafes there offering waffles as sandwiches. We thought that’s a good idea so we decided to try it out.”

Yogurt cheesecakes. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com

The White Hat has also developed a line of yogurt cheesecakes, which come in various flavors like red velvet and banana caramel walnut.

“We wanted to offer the market something different, not their usual cake. It’s yogurt cheesecake that has half the fat of the regular cheesecake,” Chao said.

Another new creation are the yogurt muffins, which use yogurt in lieu of the standard dairy.

Coming up are hot chocolate drinks, which uses Davao’s Malagos chocolate, including one variant that includes chili and another with the popular salted caramel. These drinks will be launched after the end of the Chinese ghost month.

Hot drinks using Malagos chocolate. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com

“Five years ago, our business was very fast -- people come and buy and go. But now we want them to come and stay. So we thought let’s offer them something that they will enjoy slowly,” Chao explained.