The vacant space in the first floor of Eshleman Hall won’t stay empty for long — Berkeley boba shop TeaOne is set to open up in February.
In addition to its Telegraph Avenue location, TeaOne expanded into campus when it opened at Cory Hall in August 2016. Their Cory Hall location gets 80 percent of its business from students, according to TeaOne owner Tony Lei.
Among others, ShareTea and Plentea are just two boba stores within the vicinity of Eshleman. To distinguish itself from neighboring boba shops and other TeaOne sites, the Eshleman location will offer a different menu than its other Berkeley stores.
“I’m sure that you know there’s a boba shop every 20 steps you take in Berkeley,” Lei said. “What matters is what you focus on, so this Eshleman location will have a completely new menu.”
The menu will offer drinks that use real milk rather than using recipes with powder creamer, which is a standard practice among local boba shops. Lei added that this will hopefully be a healthier option for students. TeaOne shops in Berkeley have started sampling the new drinks, and customers seem to prefer the drinks with real milk, according to Lei.
The Eshleman space was previously occupied by Equator Coffees & Teas, a coffee and tea store also located in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. Planning for the new location began last summer in collaboration with the ASUC.
“Right now (the space) is empty, and (the ASUC) think the area is too quiet and a waste of space,” Lei said. “So they hope we will bring more noise to that building.”
According to Courtney Brousseau, chair of the ASUC Board of Directors, the student union is working to bring new food vendors to the Eshleman space in order to get a sense of what students like.
Because the store was previously a coffee shop, it will not require major renovation besides the installation of drink machines and a new sign. Offices and spaces for students including the ASUC and the LEAD Center, will now have quick access to the boba shop.
“I hope that it reinforces the space as a place for students,” Brousseau said. “We’ve got a lot of important spaces for students, so hopefully it’ll reinforce that as a mission for the building.”
TeaOne is also looking into opening a store on the UC Davis campus. They are in the process of planning with UC Davis’s ASUC to get a lease, and the store will likely be open within this year, according to Lei.
The shop will not take meal points or Cal 1 Card debit cards. Brousseau added that boba seems to be a staple of students lives on campus.
“I think it’s really smart,” said campus freshman Navya Peddireddy. “Now when I get off the 79 (bus), I can make a quick boba run before my classes. … I also study here pretty often, so it’ll be convenient.”