Bebble Tea – With big franchise stores closing, more and more people are calling for independent stores – and Swindon just got a new one.
It is also the town’s first bubble tea-based cafe and offers a variety of flavours of the Taiwanese drink.
Owner and manager of Bebble Tea Merjie Casasola, said she chose to open the store on Commercial Road because she saw an opening for it in the town – even though dessert restaurant Kaspa’s sells a bubble drink.
She said: “For now, I believe there is no competitor. I realise we have Kaspa’s but I checked their business, prices and how they’re making the drink, but as far as I can see it’s nothing compared to how the original bubble tea is made.
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“I thought ‘why not try?’ It’s a gamble, to be honest.
“Right now, in town, as you can see it’s quite dead and a lot of businesses have shut down.”
The location might seem an odd choice for a new cafe, but Merjie was put off the town centre by the cost of rates and restrictive opening times.
Merjie told the Adver: “This is a good location for a variety of reasons. The car park just behind is great as well as people passing by on the road can easily see the store.
“People have said they just passed by and decided to come in, so it’s a good location.
“But it’s expensive. I didn’t really expect the monthly cost and I’m going to be having a hard time with it.
“I will see how it goes, because it’s still early and I know that summer will be booming.
“I checked the town centre and it’s so expensive and I now realise that that’s why a lot of places have shut.
“I also looked at the Brunel and it’s not bad, but they’ve got quite a restriction on the opening hours and I’d like to be able to get those extra sales.
“Everywhere closes at 5pm or 6pm but out here I can stay open until 9pm, 10pm or 11pm because the store next to me is open until 10pm, so it’s not bad. “
A big stuffed dog sits in the corner of the room. The story behind it – and the store’s name – is one that Merjie was keen to tell.
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She said: “About a year ago me and my family went to Winter Wonderland and my dad paid to play some of the games.
“He tried to play the basketball and we didn’t think he was going to win anything but he won the third basket and he won a big stuffed dog.
“My dad loves to give things nicknames and so he called him Bebble.
He’s big and we couldn’t take him on a bus so he stayed with me in my small London apartment – he’s huge.
“Then, while we were thinking of the name, I was saying that it should sound like bubble so that people will recognise it. My dad jokingly said it should be Bebble Tea and it stuck.”
What does bubble tea taste like?
With the opening of Swindon’s first bubble tea cafe, Adver reporter Connor Mountford went to Commercial Road to give the new beverage a try…
At first I was overwhelmed by the choice of options. There was everything from Nutella to watermelon, I was recommended the Thai milk of the taro, a root vegetable, but instead I went for vanilla.
The drink was made in pretty good time and I quickly had the finished product in my hand.
I had never had a bubble tea before and so I didn’t really know what to expect.
Overall it mainly tasted like a vanilla milkshake except with some tapioca balls at the bottom. Those were a surprise and had a very odd texture. Either way, I would highly recommend it.
I had to head back to the office, so I had my drink in a plastic cup. Owner Merjie Casasola says that while she knows they aren’t the best for the environment a lot of customers ask for one to show off the colours created by the various drinks.
But every cup does come with a bamboo straw instead of a plastic one.
By Connor Mountford
Source: Swindon Advertiser