Having spent over 25 years in the restaurant industry, Mike Yang wanted to eventually have his own restaurant. However, when his ideas for his business did not go according to plan, he helped open Boba Bites & Tea—a boba shop that his mother, Lin-lin Yang, and business partner Tram Nguyen had always dreamt of.

Even though he has culinary experience, Yang said having a boba shop came as a new challenge for him.

“It's a lot more work than running an actual restaurant,” Yang said. “I thought opening a boba shop wouldn't be as hard, but it's not as easy.”

Before Boba Bites & Tea opened in December in Northwest Austin, Nguyen came back from a trip to Vietnam, where she gained inspiration from bubble tea’s popularity there, Yang said. The vision for the store’s drinks and aesthetics came from Nguyen, including the heart-shaped cups the shop became known for on social media.

“That was all Tram’s idea,” Yang said. “She wanted to make this place really cute, you know? And so she decided to use the heart-shaped cups, and it just kind of developed.”

Aside from banh mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches, and desserts, Boba Bites & Tea offers at least 60 drinks on its menu in-store and online. The shop’s specialty drink “Forever in Love” is a combination of strawberry and lychee flavors topped with heart jelly. Ube drinks and other fruit teas are popular items as well, Yang said.

“When you add in [lactose-free] options—almond milk, coconut milk—just times that [number] by three,” Yang said. “We have quite a bit of options here compared to other shops.”

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of other successful small businesses in Austin, Yang said he aims to open multiple locations for Boba Bites & Tea in the future.

“Just watching the people enjoy the food and drinks—[there’s] nothing better when you create something, [and] you watch somebody eat or drink it, and they enjoy it,” Yang said. “That's part of the business.”

Boba Bites & Tea
  • 8650 Spicewood Springs Road, Ste. 108, Austin
  • 512-551-9406
  • www.bobabite.com
  • Hours: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Angela Lim is a reporting fellow for a Community Impact and The University of Texas partnership with a focus on growing and diverse neighborhoods. The project is supported by the School of Journalism and Media’s Dallas Morning News Innovation Endowment.