Chill Zone employee Andrew Erickson prepares a sample for a customer to try. Chill Zone employs many young adults and high schoolers in Rio Rancho. (Daniel Zuniga/for the Observer)



Chill Zone Frozen Yogurt has been serving the people of Rio Rancho for more than 10 years.

In January 2022, longtime owner Cathy Awe passed the ownership reins to Jenna Johnson.

“I love it here, I love the healthier alternative that it offers for dessert,” Johnson said. “I mean, it’s still a dessert, but there’s probiotics in it, it’s less calories, it’s less fat than other dessert options.”

The big difference between frozen yogurt and ice cream is the dairy base: Ice cream is made with cream, and frozen yogurt is made with milk or yogurt.

According to Healthline, while still a dessert, frozen yogurt tends to be lower in fat, have higher levels in protein, have probiotics and is a popular choice for a more nutritious dessert.

Like Awe, before owning the Chill Zone, Johnson was a long-time employee for Rio Rancho Public Schools.

Back in 2008, Awe and Johnson worked together at Mountain View Middle School. Awe was a math teacher, and Johnson worked as a health assistant.

Johnson would continue to work at Mountain View for several more years, and eventually move to Martin Luther King Elementary School to serve as the principal’s secretary.

“I’ve been coming here for the 11 years that Cathy [Awe] was in business as a customer, and when she mentioned she was looking to move on I told her ‘I was very interested,’” Johnson said.

In October, Johnson moved on from RRPS. Then, in January, she became the owner of the Chill Zone.

“We love the people of Rio Rancho, and I adore every single person who comes through our doors,” Johnson said.

Despite leaving the schools, Johnson’s goal is to always be a community driven business.

“We have done fundraising for schools, we helped MLK [in the Spring], sponsored some athletes, and helped out a church,” Johnson said. “We are always open ears when it comes to helping the community.”