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Fall 2012 Brewing Bubbles

Boba tea franchise opportunities are bubbling up.

Bobalicious3-For now, boba or bubble tea can mostly be found in cities and in Chinatown neighborhoods. The drink is still relatively rare in suburban locations. Rick Oeur, CEO of Bobalicious, hopes to change that.

Bobalicious, headquartered in Richmond, VA, sells boba along with frozen yogurt and other popular drinks and is looking to expand its footprint through franchise operations.

Boba drinks are tea drinks, smoothie-like in texture, with tapioca balls or “bubbles” inside. A special wide straw helps customers sip up the tapioca. “The boba drink was invented over 20 years ago and no one really mainstreamed the product,” Oeur says. “I’m looking to mainstream it and combine it with a hot product, frozen yogurt, to make it a unique combination.”

Bobalicous bubbles

Bobalicious has five locations—operating three inline stores as well as a kiosk and a college campus center location. The brand offers frozen yogurt as well as boba drinks; mall kiosks will also sell specialty coffee.

“Nobody does what we do, [serving] the soft-serve frozen yogurt and boba drinks,” says Oeur. He adds that Bobalicious takes the process of making boba drinks extremely seriously. “Our people are trained 30 days prior to working; you have to be like a barista to make our drinks and it’s a lot of formulas,”
he says. “There’s an art to cooking the tapioca pearl. It takes over an hour and you have to set it in the right solution to maintain the consistency. Some operators just don’t know how to do it.”

Boba drink and frozen yogurt flavors rotate weekly and vary depending on the location. Boba drink flavors include piña colada, passion fruit, cappuccino, lychee, kumquat and blueberry.

Frozen yogurt offerings range from specialties like apple pie, cookies and cream, angel food cake and NY cheesecake to more traditional flavors such as vanilla, banana and peanut butter. Bobalicious serves 60 to 70 frozen yogurt toppings at each location including unusual ones like crumbled fortune cookies.

Yogurt is sold by the weight and boba drinks are priced by the cup. Typical markup is 25 to 35 percent.

Sweet franchises 

Oeur says Bobalicious is targeting malls across the country for franchise expansion. “Our goal is to move up north, and we have 10 locations on slate for this year. One hundred locations is the goal for the next year. We’re really looking to take this nationwide.”

“Our product is an impulse-buy product,” Oeur says. “You need to be in front of people and invite them to come in. Once they try a sample, our success rate is 8 out of 10
when it comes to buying.”

After phone conversations and a credit check, the company works with potential franchisees to implement a business plan. “We have a corporate training facility and the new franchisee would work for one to two weeks in a store,” Oeur says.

The franchise fee is $25,000, which includes consultation, location suggestions, graphics, training and store support. The average cost to open a kiosk is $170,000.

Bobalicious also hopes to help the food and beverage industry learn to make boba drinks. “We’re not only looking to be a franchiser, we’re looking to be a distributor of the product as well as [provide] classes and education on how to do this properly,” Oeur says.

For more information about Bobalicious, please visit mybobalicious.com.

Bobalicious


Kristin Larson Contino

Kristin Contino is a freelance writer and copy editor based in Philadelphia. She writes for a variety of print publications and blogs, and also covers women's fiction for examiner.com.

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