New Kids on the Block: Downtown Yogurt and Ice Cream

Mark Kahn didn’t leave his day job at first when he and his wife, Debi, opened Downtown Yogurt in Jersey City right near the Grove Street Path stop. He stayed at JP Morgan and commuted while Debi ran the shop, which turned out to be a big hit. But with bigger horizons in mind, he quite two years ago and now the two of them have opened Downtown Yogurt and Ice Cream* at 303 Greenwich, in the old macaroon shop. (And from here on in any of the quotes you see below can be attributed to either Mark or Debi, because they not only finish each others’ sentences as the cliché goes, but they fill in the middles as well.)

Rather than go with a franchise (16 Handles, Red Mango), the pair decided to open their own shop from scratch, hiring away a manager to show them the ropes and putting their own touch on things but using the same base as Forty Carrots at Bloomingdale’s. “We wanted to build something unique and independent and urban,” said Mark/Debi. “Franchises tell you everything – look, feel, ingredients. We wanted to control all that.”

There are the usual toppings, but also a few signatures:
* Nutella crunch (ice cream cake crunches shmushed together with Nutella)
* Pineapple Dole whip (see below)
* Cannoli cream (like it sounds, though still TK while they work out city sourcing issues for the small-batch impastata cheese required. Some things are just easier in Jersey.)
* Two vegan options (Vegan Almond made by Silk and the above-mentioned Dole whip)

* They didn’t want to compete with a local scoop shop in Jersey City so the ice cream is just for Tribeca. After doing their market research in Washington Market Park last summer, this was the takeaway: the people want premium. Enter Bassett’s: a sixth-generation scoop shop in Philly that has 50 outlets but none in New York City. “Philly people live and breathe it,” they said.

Ok, I know this is a lot about ice cream, but there’s more. Dole whip. I had never heard of it, but it turns out it has a massive cult following among Disney fans especially. (Go figure.) “A friend of mine said, ‘you have these great machines, you have to make Dole whip,’” said Debi. “’I promise you won’t regret it.’” The parfaits do make for good pictures.

As for the Kahns, the kids are grown and they ditched the suburban house in Morris County, opting instead for the 1,800-square-foot former warehouse loft with 14-foot ceilings in JC. Running a small business is a lesson in letting go, they said – finding the right people and giving them a chance to take charge. That way they can start to look for their next shop.

Downtown Yogurt and Ice Cream
303 Greenwich between Reade and Chambers
Open noon to 9 (they deliver)



  1. I’ve had the Dole Whip and it is wonderful (and destined to be my summer treat). The neighborhood needed this, especially since Stellar closed all of the IPN businesses. Now if we could only save Dudley’s and resurrect Cornerstone …

  2. This place needs to offer a little more for grownups. Almost all the toppings are candy or cookies; only a couple of fruits, no nuts, no coconut. I didn’t try the Dole Whip and I have no doubt it’s delicious, but I looked it up and it’s all sugars, stabilizers, and artificial colors and flavors. Come to think of it, kids need some healthier choices also.

  3. S. has a point – I am not one for toppings on my ice cream but I know I must be in the minority on that one. We don’t want to keep losing small businesses here in TriBeCa- please extend your healthy selections. Your customers won’t feel so guilty and will keep coming back! Welcome to the neighborhood.

  4. The yogurt is the same brand as the beloved Bloomingdales yogurt but tastes nothing like it. Maybe they switched brands from when they first said it would be the same as Bloomingdales yogurt. The almond milk one and Dole whip are both very good but was so disappointed that the forgot doesn’t taste like frogurt.

  5. Welcome to the neighborhood, Mark/Debi! Looking forward to your ice cream this summer! Nutella Crunch sounds irrestible!

  6. I always said this neighborhood was missing an ice cream shop. McDonald’s was my go to but their machine was ALWAYS down. My son loves their ice cream. I’m a customer. Will support so the shop stays open!!!