Business Matters: Service and safety, Teapresso presses on amid pandemic

Business Matters

HONOLULU (KHON2) — From boba tea to fruit slushies to numerous types of coffee, Teapresso offers some of the most popular drinks available.

Like many other local businesses, things have changed as a result of the pandemic. Store hours have been reduced and there may be fewer customers coming through the doors some days. But Teapresso store operator Steve Nguyen says those customers are loyal.

“The customers–they demand the drink–the demand for a healthier alternative,” said Nguyen. “The bubble tea, coffee, smoothies, and Hawaii is the perfect weather for it.”

Like it’s menu, the company has continued to grow since first setting up shop on the islands six years ago.

“Within the Hawaiian Islands, we have 18 locations on Oahu. We have three on Maui, one on Kauai, and two locations on the Big Island. We also have a collaboration with ABC stores.”

Nguyen admits the company’s rapid expansion has left him surprised.

“It’s overwhelming where we have to create, we have to localize something for everyone to enjoy.”

He’s also admits going from one to over 20 stores in less than seven years hasn’t been easy.

“With every business in Hawaii, one of our biggest challenges has been turnover. Employees are moving here or going to school and that’s always very challenging for us.”

Nguyen’s other primary challenge is simply the cost of doing business here.

“Hawaii is not cheap, you know, when we have to find a way to adapt to overcome, right?”

And never has he needed to adapt more than the present. The stores that were full of tables and chairs are now mostly empty. But there is new seating outside. Like every other Hawaii business, Teapresso is adjusting.

“It’s really hard because customers want one thing and we have to find a way to make everybody happy.”

Going forward, he says his recipe for success is taking care of both his valued customers and employees.

“That’s priority number one. I cannot stress enough that my staff has to feel safe. They have to be safe–and customers also. But that’s one of the challenges but we’re there.”

Nguyen also says for those who don’t want to venture out, they’ve partnered with several online food delivery companies.

But for those who do enjoy visiting his stores in person, he says he promises to deliver on his three primary goals: keep it safe, keep it local, and keep it positive.

“I want to create an atmosphere everybody can get away from it on feel like they’re getting away from their daily struggles enjoy your boba tea coffee smoothie whatever.”

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