After a delay because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bubbles Tea and Juice Co. opened its shop on Oct. 30 to sell an array of bubble teas, smoothies, acai bowls and more.
Originally, the business planned on opening its first location outside of Columbus in March, according to a previous Post report. However, there were work and supply shortages as well as shortages in the construction and trade industries due to the pandemic, Chief Operating Officer of Bubbles, Joseph Ebner, said.
Bubbles had no plans for a grand opening, and Ebner said the shop is now staying open and not looking back.
“We strive to bring the best-tasting most unique flavors and offerings to our customers with exceptionality and consistency every time,” Ebner said in an email. “We are excited and eager to begin our relationship with the OU and (Athens) community!”
Bubbles serves milk teas in flavors like chai, coffee and lavender, and flavored teas, such as blueberry, strawberry and honey, according to its website. Interested customers can get boba bubbles or chewy tapioca pearls in any of their drinks.
Bubbles also offers freshly made smoothies. Customers have the option to customize their own or choose one from the menu. Additionally, the company sells acai bowls and cold-pressed juices.
All items are between $4 to $9, Ebner said, depending on how much customers “dress up” their items.
Many students — some fans of bubble tea and some new to trying it — have come out and tried the new shop.
“Two weeks before they announced that they were coming to Athens, I told my roommate that Athens needs a bubble tea place,” Janae Spinelli, a senior studying integrated healthcare studies, said. “I was so excited when I heard they were coming.”
Spinelli said she went to Bubbles a few days after it opened and trusted the barista’s choice for her first beverage. By recommendation, she got the lavender milk tea with boba, and was very impressed.
“It was phenomenal,” Spinelli said. “It was one of the best drinks I've had in my life.”
Spinelli also said she was very impressed with the kindness and attentiveness of the staff. Spinelli expected the higher price, but was willing to pay it.
Aubrey Unroe, a junior studying pre-professional biology, said she has also been to Bubbles multiple times, trying a different drink during each visit. She loved every tea she has tried thus far, she said.
“The price was worth it to me and they give you a punch card so that every time you get a drink you get a punch and eventually get one free,” Unroe said in a message. “I am super happy it’s open in Athens. It’s really convenient being on Court Street.”
Bubbles has 15 employees at its Athens location, Ebner said, the majority of them being OU students. He hopes for the business to have even more of a presence in the community when — and if — students return in the spring.
“We are hopeful and optimistic regarding opening during a pandemic,” Ebner said in an email. “Our staff is trained on all safety procedures, (and) we have not had a single incident or even a scare in regards to (COVID-19) at any of our locations since the beginning of the pandemic.”
The store has many COVID-19 precautions in place, including sneeze guards, floor markings and extra hand sanitizing procedures. Other than that, Ebner said the store is operating relatively normal.
Ebner hopes people will come in because of the store’s items that are very unique in the Athens area.
“We have unique and healthy options where everyone can find something new or unique for them,” Ebner said in an email. “We also differ from everyone else around Athens in terms of what we offer, so you (can’t) find what we have anywhere else!”