Happy Lemon arrives in Evanston


Iris Swarthout/Daily Senior Staffer

The Happy Lemon store front, located at 1607 Chicago Ave. in Evanston.

Iris Swarthout, Reporter

With tea leaves imported directly from Asia, new Evanston beverage shop Happy Lemon is a draw to anyone who enjoys authentic and fresh ingredients. 

The store opened on July 11, making it the first in the franchise to arrive in the Midwest. Happy Lemon is dedicated to providing authentic drinks and foods to its customers.

Trinh Le, the store owner and operator, said she brought the shop to Evanston to serve Northwestern’s diverse community.

“It is recognized by a lot of international students,” Le said. “So I know that it’s a brand that a lot of [NU] students would recognize.”

Le said she also thinks that Chicago’s diverse food scene will foster Happy Lemon’s expansion. The corporation’s originality in the bubble tea market, especially through its creation of the salted cheese topping, appealed to her when she first noticed its popularity in Northern California, she said.

Apart from the strong demand for Happy Lemon’s drinks, Le said she and her workers are committed to creating a familial environment for both its workers and customers. 

Matthew Lee, a Weinberg junior and current employee, said he appreciates the welcoming employee atmosphere at Happy Lemon. 

“All the employees are pretty much either late high school students or are in their college years,” Lee said. “Everybody loves working here, and I feel like that just really oozes out to our customers.”

Happy Lemon’s positive work environment elevates the customer experience even more, according to Lee. 

Weinberg senior and employee Ashley Ellis said a variety of community members visit the shop, ranging from students and Evanston residents who have never had bubble tea before to those originally from East Asia who are familiar with the franchise.

“The company started in Taiwan and [our store] is still very much connected to it,” Ellis said. “People who are from Taiwan and China know about the company and come here.”

Looking ahead, Le said she plans on opening two more stores in the Chicago area, one in Lincoln Park and the other to be determined. 

“We are actually the [Happy Lemon] area developers for Illinois,” Le said. “Not only are we looking to develop in Chicago, but we’re looking at different parts of Illinois.”

Le said she ultimately would like to expand outside of Illinois, as she believes doing so would bring a globally-recognized franchise to the Midwest. 

While Happy Lemon’s expansion has potential, the Evanston store’s dedication to local sourcing is a priority, according to Le. She added that Happy Lemon’s presence in the community is not just a one-way transaction. 

“I don’t want to necessarily only work with larger corporations; I want to be able to collaborate with multiple vendors as well,” Le said. “Not only do I want to bring business to Evanston, but I want to give back to the community.”

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