BY BENJAMIN LAW
In the mood to mix up your beverage game? It’s your lucky day, because a new boba tea place has come to Salisbury.
Salisbury Boba first opened its doors to customers on Aug. 7. It is open Monday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
It is located in the Clairmont Shopping Center along with other restaurants The Irish Penny Pub & Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Little Caesars and Subway.
Salisbury Boba owner Andy Hang first thought of the idea of opening a business in Salisbury when he came earlier in March this year from California to visit his brother and sister who own other businesses in Salisbury.
Usually boba or bubble tea can be found as another drink people can choose to order at Asian restaurants, but the last five years in California have shown an increase in the popularity of places solely selling boba. Hang wanted to bring the boba tea craze to Salisbury.
There are different levels of sweetness a customer can choose from, which helps with anyone trying to watch their health or diet to still be able to enjoy themselves. There is also a variety of other toppings besides boba to choose from, such as aloe vera, coffee jelly and lychee jelly.
Senior Grace Kim has tried bubble tea before at Manna Korean Cuisine. Her favorite is either milk tea or green tea with tapioca jelly.
Even though Kim has not tried Salisbury Boba out yet, she is open to trying it out. Kim has received positive reviews of it from friends.
“A lot of my friends have been there and they said they really like it,” Kim said. “If I ever go in that direction I’ll try it.”
Customers can choose between earl grey or jasmine tea, fruit-flavored teas, milk teas, slushies, frappes and smoothies. They also have the option of adding in toppings.
Hang replaced the traditional lids of the cups with plastic from sealing machines, which reduces the amount of plastic used. Hang is also open to replacing plastic boba straws with paper ones if they become more available to the boba business.
Hang has given free drink vouchers out at community outreach events and is pleased to see how many people new to boba enjoy it.
“I use it as an opportunity to allow them to try drinks they never tried before,” Hang said.
One of the things that Hang has found most shocking since opening his business is how the older demographic of people react to the drinks.
“The elderly generation are very receptive,” Hang said. “They have been repeat customers.”
Hang believes that his restaurant is a great place for socializing, studying and doing homework.
“I wanted my business here near SU to be part of the community,” Hang said.
He has had very high interest in applications and hired Salisbury students to help them combat the costs of college. Also, he plans to continue to hire SU students as well as high school students.
Hang is always intrigued whenever a customer asks for a unique flavor combination like green apple and kiwi.
When asked about what his favorite thing about his job is, the customers are at the top.
“The priceless reactions from all my customers that come into this place,” Hang said. “It makes everything perfect.”
Wor-Wic Community College sophomore Amina Alaraki does not understand why people get so excited about bubble tea. She thinks people can just make tea at home for a lot cheaper, but she has admitted that she has not tried the tea at Salisbury Boba.
“I don’t get what all the hype is about,” Alaraki said. “It’s just tea at the end of the day.”
The thing that Hang has to struggle with the most is when the weather gets bad and getting the younger middle and high school kids to come. According to his research, some of the local schools offer free breakfast and lunch programs.
Hang believes that if there are free meal programs at schools, the students may not have extra money or a need for refreshments.
A loyalty reward program is offered where the 10th drink bought is free, according to the website http://salisburyboba.com/.
Students can get 10 percent off their purchase if they show their student ID, but students are not the only ones who get to benefit. Firefighters, law enforcement, military and senior citizens are also eligible for a 10 percent discount.
There is an aspect to this tea shop that makes it pop, which is a mural that can be directly linked to SU freshman D’Shon McCarthy. McCarthy is double majoring in business management and fine arts.
Near the end of August before the fall semester at Salisbury University McCarthy stumbled upon Salisbury Boba. She noticed that one of the walls was white with nothing on it.
McCarthy believes that people want to feel safe and welcomed into their community when they go into restaurants. Restaurants should also have some type of style or aesthetic to them.
“When you walk into a restaurant, you should feel atmosphere,” McCarthy said.
After her visit to the restaurant, she went home and drew on a sketchpad.
McCarthy had painted murals in the past, so she decided to ask Hang if she could paint a mural on the wall. “It was just random,” McCarthy said.
Prior to McCarthy asking to paint, Hang was already looking for someone to paint a mural. Ultimately, Hang decided to hire McCarthy to do the job.
Later, McCarthy asked a friend to help her with the mural.
The friend was working on the mural for community service hours. As time went by, they wanted to become the boss and eventually left, according to McCarthy.
Now McCarthy has a new friend and fellow fine arts major Taylor Smith helping her. Contributing to the mural has been a lot of fun and a break from studies at SU, Smith said.
McCarthy and Hang are collaborative in coming up with ideas for the different designs and images on the mural.
McCarthy’s process for creation involves drawing everything out first, finding space with lines in a freestyle from. She describes her style as trial and error.
Her experience in art stems back to high school where she took many high school classes, so when it came time for her deciding on a major in college, she knew she wanted to study art. Her reasoning for double majoring in business management is due to her parents wanting her to have a stable career.
Once the mural is completed, fixative will be applied to protect it. Hang has plans for the mural to continue on the wall across from it, and McCarthy expects the mural to be completed by the middle of November, if not earlier.
Featured photo by Benjamin Law