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Burlingame Tpumps location brewing: Third store in boba franchise that originated in San Mateo
November 08, 2013, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

Angela Swartz/Daily Journal
Tpumps, which expanded to San Francisco this summer, will open a new shop in Burlingame at the end of November.

Vanessa Gray, a two-year employee of Tpumps, serves up samples of green tea in the San Mateo tea shop.

A popular downtown San Mateo tea spot that serves up a variety of boba-based drinks is expanding to Burlingame Avenue in late November.

Tpumps, located on B Street, expanded to Irving Street in San Francisco this past summer and its owner, Alex Su, decided Burlingame would be a great new location to ease the San Mateo store’s long lines.

“I feel terrible to make customers wait such a long time,” Su, 40, said. “It’s a good location and not too close or far away.”

The new location, at 1118 Burlingame Ave., is slightly bigger and has air conditioning to make the store more comfortable for customers, Su said. There will not be seating though, as is the case in the San Mateo and San Francisco stores as well, just because Burlingame’s rent is very pricey, he said.

What has kept the store so popular?

“The quality of the tea we use is much better,” Su said. “Promoting good tea is still my goal. I want to educate customers on how to brew tea better. Drinking tea is more than just tea bags.”

Su’s tea received awards in its country of origin, Taiwan.

The seemingly addictive tapioca drinks come in both warm and cold form and as smoothies. Customers can mix flavors such as almond, mango and taro and choose between black and green teas.

The San Mateo Tpumps location also houses Su’s shipping business, as he used to be the director of a shipping company called Topocean. The Burlingame and San Francisco shops do not include shipping services. He will be removing the P.O. boxes in the store though since they tend to get in the way and were originally put in to generate additional revenue if the tea wasn’t selling well.

The tea prices have not changed all that much over time. His savings from his previous career helped keep the business afloat at first.

“It’s very hard to keep prices down,” Su said. “It’s good enough for profit. It’s even better to see more customers enjoy tea — it’s something money cannot buy.”

Su, a father of a 4-year-old daughter, said he averages about four hours of sleep a night.

“It helps me divide my time between the shops,” he said.

Does Su have time for vacation?

“I think I give the same answer to everyone — I enjoy what I do and this is an actual vacation,” he said. “It’s fun to see the customers enjoy the drinks.”

In addition to the new Burlingame store, Su plans to open another branch in Cupertino in late December. He now also has a Hayward office for distribution. He’s not sure he sees the business expanding out of California.

“I don’t want to go too far,” he said. “With the customers encouragement I was able to get the courage to expand to Cupertino though.”

The Tpumps regular 24-ounce sized drink is $2.50, while the larger 32-ounce pumpbo sells for $3.50. Smoothies range from $3.50 to $4.50 and there is a 50 cent charge for extra toppings such as popping boba, taro or red bean. Customers can also tweak the amount of ice or sweetness of the beverages.

He is currently looking to hire and train new employees for the Burlingame location. Although the block of the Tpumps store soon be undergoing construction as part of the Burlingame Avenue Streetscape project, Su said the long-term effects of the changes outweigh the short-term effects. The store’s opening date has yet to be set.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: customers, burlingame, store, location, mateo, tpumps,

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