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Vietnamese Immigrants Bring Bubble Tea Franchise To Moncton

Anh Nguyen and Ashley Do are opening their Chatime bubble tea shop in Moncton with the help of Justin Phan. Image: Submitted

MONCTON – Ashley Do chose to stay in Moncton after school even though her family moved to Ottawa last year. The Vietnamese native and her business partner Anh Nguyen are opening Chatime, a Taiwanese bubble tea franchise with locations in more than 30 countries, including Canada.

The 22-year-old says she sees an opportunity for her business.

“I stayed because I have school and also Chatime. I think Moncton has a good potential for this business,” she said. [Besides,] someone already purchased the franchise for Ottawa. And also the cost there is much higher than here.”

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea-based drink that usually contains fruit or milk and chewy tapioca balls. Do says most of Chatime’s 102 beverages would taste more similar to Tim Hortons Ice Cappucino or Starbucks Frappucino rather than a regular hot tea. She will offer toppings like tapioca starch, red beans, coconut jelly, grass jelly and coffee jelly. The price of the drinks will range from $4.50 to $7. Like every other Chatime store, all of the inventory will be imported from Taiwan.

“I want to bring a new experience to people here in New Brunswick, not just Moncton, because Chatime is everywhere [in Canada], but not in New Brunswick. I see that many of my friends are travelling to Halifax once a month just to buy six or 10 cups of Chatime and store them in the fridge,” she said.

“And I like it too. Since I came here there was no bubble tea. It’s what I drank every day when I was in Vietnam. So, okay, first of all, I want to open it so I can drink [it],” she said with laughter.

Do says her 10-seat shop will add more diversity to Greater Moncton’s food and beverage sector. She also sees the need for more places for young people to hang out.

“Imagine now when I hang out with my friends, or when I see people hang out, where are we going? Movies? And after the movies? Do you wanna go sit somewhere to hang out? They only have a few options like Starbucks or Tim Hortons or Goji’s, sometimes pubs or bars. We just need something else,” she said.

This franchise will be Do’s entry into the entrepreneurship world. Her partner Nguyen has management experience from Vietnam, but applying that to a new country could be difficult.

During the building of the business, she enlisted the help of her friend Justin Phan, who has experience working at a Chatime store. Also 22 years old, Phan, formerly a student at the Moncton flight college, helped with the renovation and design of the store. Phan will co-manage the store with Do.

“Everything in Canada is different. The challenge here is how to deal with the regulations, a lot of paperwork, and culture, how to deal with people in business and everything,” she said.

Still, Do is excited to start her own business.

“I’m into business, so, I just feel like I like it more. I can control my hours, control my time. It’s really hard though. More responsibilities. More risky. But it’s worth it. Everyone has to start from the beginning right?” she said.

Do will hire six people to help her and Phan at the shop. Chatime will open at 125 Main Street on February 11.