Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Explore some of Evanston’s boba shops on today’s episode of Everything Evanston.

[nat sound: entering boba shop]

SHAE LAKE: In a college town, it’s not unusual to see a bright, bubbly storefront where students love to gather to get bubble tea. In downtown Evanston, there are at least seven. We’re going to explore a few stores that bring their teas to the community.

From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Shae Lake. Welcome to the latest episode of Everything Evanston, a podcast exploring all things Evanston. Today, we’re exploring the downtown boba shops.

JUN ZHONG: I think every single girl, when I was young, every single one would imagine, okay you have beautiful coffee shop, dessert shop, something like that, it’s really relaxing for the customer, you know, it’s a really good place, you can hang out with friends. So this is also my dream place.

SHAE LAKE: That was Jun Zhong, the owner and manager of TEAlicious BUBBLE on Sherman Avenue. She used to be a stay-at-home mom but said she created the shop to fulfill her childhood dream.

JUN ZHONG: I feel really happy when I got some positive review from customers, also when the people, they have a drink and they give me positive attitude.

SHAE LAKE: Zhong founded TEAlicious BUBBLE in 2019. She said she wanted to focus on making delicious teas for children and their families to enjoy.

JUN ZHONG: It’s really simple, you know, I just want to run my business and let people enjoy the drinks; that’s it. So, I don’t want to do something with other shops, I just want to do something with me and with my shop; that’s it. It’s simple. It’s not like big dreams like, “Oh, I would like to build chain restaurant,” no, no, no, no.

SHAE LAKE: Zhong said that one of the most challenging parts of running TEAlicious BUBBLE was the competition. Shirley Truong, the general manager of Happy Lemon, said she also felt that way.

SHIRLEY TRUONG: It’s definitely a little intimidating, but in the end I feel like people keep coming back because of the quality we try to upkeep here. And it’s maintaining connections — it’s nice seeing regulars come in all the time, being able to chit-chat with them and making relationships with our customers and the community.

SHAE LAKE: Happy Lemon’s Evanston location opened in 2021. Truong had previously worked at another boba shop before joining Happy Lemon. She said she did not observe the same level of quality control at other boba shops.

SHIRLEY TRUONG: I just really appreciate, especially as a consumer, I just appreciate knowing the quality and what goes into all the teas and toppings and stuff. Knowing that it comes from, you know, fresh or organic places.

SHAE LAKE: Truong said that one of her priorities is maintaining a good work environment. She said she believes that the staff at Happy Lemon have bonded well both inside and outside of work.

SHIRLEY TRUONG: I know a lot of workplaces will say, “Oh, we’re a family,” and such like that, but here it really feels that way.

SHAE LAKE: Northwestern’s proximity to these boba shops affects not only their staff but also their clientele. Celia Kent was visiting Evanston and tried Moge Tee. A native of Ann Arbor, she said growing up in a college town with plenty of boba shops let her see how they affect the campus’ culture.

CELIA KENT: I feel like increasingly, people are like, “Let’s go grab coffee or boba,” or it’s thrown in with a classic like ice cream, boba, one of those things.

SHAE LAKE: Happy Lemon and TEAlicious BUBBLE have worked with different student organizations to promote their teas on campus. Happy Lemon also has a Wildcard discount for Northwestern students.

SHIRLEY TRUONG: I know some old workers that used to work here. They would tell us Happy Lemon was like a staple. So it means a lot to us to always be able to cater to a lot of clubs and being able to provide for Northwestern, because you guys are what keeps us alive.

SHAE LAKE: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Shae Lake. Thanks for listening to another episode of Everything Evanston. This episode was reported and produced by me. The audio editor of The Daily Northwestern is Carlotta Angiolillo, the digital managing editors are Sonya Dymova and Micah Sandy and the editor in chief is Jacob Wendler. Make sure to subscribe to The Daily Northwestern’s podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or SoundCloud to hear more episodes like this.

Email: [email protected]
X: @lake_shae53899

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