Mar 16, 2023, 6:55am CDT
Te'amo Boba Bar
Chicago-based bubble tea and dessert shop Te'amo Boba Bar is expanding to She Minnesota. A serial franchisee who brought international Korean-style fried chicken chain Bonchon to the Twin Cities is doing the same with a Chicago-based bubble tea and dessert cafe chain. By late 2024, Sam Zheng plans to open five to eight Te'amo Boba Bar locations in Minnesota, primarily in the metro area, starting with an initial store in Coon Rapids shopping center Riverdale Commons. Another will be included in the food hall of the Pacifica development at Burnsville Center. Zheng was represented in lease negotiations by broker Marshall Nguyen, vice president of Edina-based Caspian Group, who will help Zheng secure additional properties for Te'amo, as he's done for Zheng with Bonchon. Te'amo offers colorful bubble tea drinks made with organic loose-leaf tea, milk or plant-based milk, fruit, and natural syrups served in transparent cans, plus smoothies, mochi donuts, cakes, ice cream and other sweets. Women ages 15 to 36 make up the brand's primary demographic. Founded by Mia Wan in 2016, Te'amo has grown to three locations in Chicago, including in the city's Michigan Avenue and Chinatown business districts, and a fourth in a northwest suburb. There are more than eight stores coming soon, according to the company. Chicago restaurateur and franchisee Tony Hu, locally known as the "Mayor of Chinatown," has at least six Te'amo locations in the works throughout Chicagoland, with Navy Pier and Willis Tower outposts among them, Eater Chicago reported. Hu launched acclaimed Chinese restaurant Lao Sze Chuan in 1998 in Chicago's Chinatown. It's since grown throughout Illinois and expanded through franchising to other states, including Minnesota. Zheng owns the Dinkytown location in Minneapolis. Zheng opened his first Bonchon store in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood in 2018. He now operates six locations across the Twin Cities. He franchises several other brands, too, and there's still more to come. Zheng has two Mango Mango Dessert stores, in Dinkytown next to Bonchon and in Maple Grove, plus two Million's Crab restaurants, in Maplewood and Richfield. Zheng is in the process of replacing Million’s Crab in Roseville with a new concept called Shinhwa Korean Steakhouse. If it's successful, he plans to grow Shinhwa to four or five locations in Minnesota. Nguyen estimates that Zheng will add at least 20 food and beverage operations, a mix of various concepts, to his restaurant portfolio over the next couple of years. Zheng is also a commercial real estate investor and is one of the partners on Pacifica of Burnsville.