With boozy bubble tea and a rotating 15-item food menu inspired by global cuisines, Limoo Tea Bar in Allston wants both young professionals and students to know that this isn’t your typical bubble tea shop.
“When you come in here, I want you to feel welcome without sacrificing the cultural aspects,” co-owner Joe Deng, who also owns LimeRed Teahouse in Amherst with Raymond Lee, said. “I want people to feel like this is not a foreign place [and] that they can find a home here, too.”
Limoo—which translates to “lime” in co-owner Reza Rahmani’s native language of Farsi—soft launched on Aug. 12, serving New American cuisine and freshly brewed teas, including what seems to be the main draw—bubble tea with a kick.
A two-story tea bar located in the former Japonaise Bakery and Café space, the 4500-square-foot shop holds up to 49 people. Despite its location on 1032 Comm. Ave. near Boston University, Limoo so far has been attracting what Deng described as mostly “young professionals that really identify with [alcoholic bubble tea].”
“Our BU penetration is actually very low—surprisingly so,” Deng said. “But I understand how people might want to go to the places they’re used to going [at the start of the school year], and of course this is a 21+ place [after 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays], which means we’re targeting juniors and seniors.”
Since opening, the most popular items have been the mon-tao burger and strawberry—which Deng described as a “sexy fruit”—green tea vodka. For an extra $2, customers may add quail eggs to Limoo pockets, which are pita or mon-tao baos that the menu boasts as “handheld heaven for the brave.”
“[The menu variety] is basically the best way to pay respects to where we came from while looking towards the future,” Deng said.
And the menu isn’t the only aspect to fall under Limoo’s theme of mixing the past and the future. Bubble tea drinks are served in mason jars, while servers take orders on one of the four iPad minis. The iPads help to speed up turnover, especially during busy times when customers waiting to get the servers’ attention often ends up adding an extra 15 or 20 minutes, Deng said.
“Everyone’s always in a hurry,” Deng said. “By using iPads and charging everything on the spot, we can keep the benefit waitstaff … and whenever you’re done, just leave. That will save everybody’s time and frustration.”
Even though most of the the business so far occurs during weekend nights, Deng said he wants people to see Limoo as a potential study or work spot, similar to Starbucks and Pavement Coffeehouse.
“It just so happens that at the end of the night when you’re done studying, you can put your books away and start drinking with your friends. That’s the only difference,” Deng said.
In fact, the first floor seating consists of one 24-by-4-foot wooden table with outlets attached underneath. Deng said this setup allows for a barrier-free, more social environment on the first floor, whereas the second floor booths and tables offer a more private experience.
At the end of the day, each bill averages about $18 to $20, but groups often order more after the first bill, Deng said. Limoo’s Facebook page also posts “secret” items that are not on the menu.
With competitively priced items to nearby bars such as T’s Pub and a more refined overall environment, Deng said he hopes to prove the concept within the next few months and eventually open up the business to franchising.
Until then, expect to see some seasonal additions to the menu, including soups for the winter and maybe even something to cater to the pumpkin spice fans.
“We’ll take care of your taste buds,” Deng said.
Limoo Tea Bar
1032 Comm. Ave. Boston, MA 02215
Open daily from noon to 11 p.m., noon to 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday & Saturday