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Davis, California

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Newcomer i-Tea to open at location of closed textbook store

Boba shop caters to students as a hangout spot

The building on the corner of Third and A Streets, formerly occupied by Off-Campus Books, will be separated into two eateries, one of which will become i-Tea, a boba tea shop.

According to Jacky Ruan, the president of 168 Eat & Entertainment Enterprises, the company is opening the Taiwanese franchise in Davis in addition to its location in Sacramento, which UC Davis students often go to. The shop has already begun training employees and is looking to host a soft opening by the end of February.

A wall was built to isolate the original bookstore into two establishments. The restaurant next door will start construction around when i-Tea opens and will likely feature Chinese cuisine. The boba shop’s menu will include boba drinks, fruit drinks, fruit tea, ramen and various appetizers. Other amenities include electrical outlets for students to use, a community area and an intended outside hangout spot.

“We picked this area because it’s very convenient,” Ruan said. “We’re going to have a nice patio buildout for people to hang out.”

The establishment will be across the street from the Social Sciences & Humanities Building. The company looked into other locations in downtown Davis, but ultimately decided to buy out the bookstore’s lease. The prime location, however, proved to be challenging in the construction process. The Third Street Improvements Project halted the shop’s construction for nearly six months and inhibited resources from getting through the blocked streets.

In addition, Ruan said the City of Davis was slow in approving its plans, and reluctant in accommodating changes such as installing more glass windows. The project was proposed around a year and a half ago, and racked significant costs in vacant rent.

i-Tea will be located directly across from another boba shop called RareTea, which recently replaced ShareTea. First-year environmental science and management major Alice Kilduff expressed concerns over the proximity of the two shops.

“i-Tea will be a good addition, but it’ll spark a bit of competition,” Kilduff said. “If we look at it from more of a conservative standpoint, the boba might become better due to this competition, or it could just fall apart.”

First-year managerial economics major Kady Adams is familiar with and enjoys the Bay Area i-Tea locations, but also questions the necessity of another boba shop given the high concentration of shops near campus.

“I feel like you could do other things instead of a boba place right next to it,” Adams said. “If they put them next to each other, one’s going to get more business than the other. One’s going to have to close. I’m sure the rent is a lot.”

In the past, the Sacramento location hosted events for UC Davis student groups and often delivered to students’ homes. For first-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Jacquelyn Mae dela Cruz, the addition of another boba shop means more to choose from, whether after class or through delivery.

“I like the variety,” Mae dela Cruz said. “[the boba shops] are not going to run out of business.”

Davis can expect two new additions to downtown after months of waiting for the space to be occupied.

“The excitement’s already gone, let’s put it that way,” Ruan said. “We’ve been dragging and dragging and dragging, but we’re finally there.”

Written by: Renee Hoh — city@theaggie.org

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