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Taiwanese-based bubble tea chain Happy Lemon is planning a massive expansion into Chicagoland, with new stores coming to Naperville, Glenview, and Schaumburg.
The company already has more than 1,500 company-owned stores and franchises across Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America, is getting ready to open four new Chicago-area locations by the end of 2022. Franchisee Trinh Le, who owns a Happy Lemon in Evanston, recently opened a new location near DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus. What started as a hobby has turned into a passion for hospitality for the former banker, and now she gets ready to add even more locations throughout the city.
[The Evanson location was the] first [Happy Lemon] in entire midwest,” Le tells What Now Chicago. “I feel very confident about it. Many other boba chains have opened in the midwest, so I think that’s an untapped market.”
The locations of the Glenview and Schaumburg locations are still unknown. Le is in the process of securing leases for the two locations in the upcoming months. She is close to opening a third Happy Lemon in Naperville, alongside her other franchise project, Taiwanese hot pot chain Tasty Pot. Le tells What Chicago she hopes to open the Naperville location sometime around September.
“[The shared location] will help us strike a balance,” Le says. “Hot pot is good for colder weather, and Happy Lemon is busier in the summer, so this way, we can attract customers year-round.”
When these locations open, guests can expect all of the flavors found at her original Evanston location, which was Illinois’ first introduction to the brand. Some of Le’s flavors include purple taro milk tea with boba, strawberry black tea with salted cheese, smoothies, slushies, and playful bubble waffles (original and chocolate).