New Rolling Meadows tea shop gets city funds for upgrades

Though it opened nearly a year ago, a Rolling Meadows tea shop is first getting a city restaurant incentive to fix broken doors and complete a larger dining room build out that owners intended to do but didn't amid rising costs.

Ding Tea, which serves the popular bubble tea drinks that originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, had a grand opening last November in a strip mall storefront at 2226 W. Algonquin Road.

Owner Hung Phi Nguyen said his original budget to renovate the former 1,391-square-foot Subway shop into the new tea shop was $150,000. But with rising costs of labor, materials and supplies — and an associated shipping fee from the chain's Taiwan headquarters — it rose to $271,000.

“Although our bubble tea store is already opened and operating, we still have a lot to improve and complete,” he wrote in his request for financial relief to city officials.

The restaurant incentive, approved late last month by the city council, will refund up to $5,000 in building fees, a portion of food and beverage taxes (40% after the first year, 20% after the second and 10% after the third), and a facade and interior grant of up to $10,000 — which Nguyen says will help pay for the costs of fixing damaged front and back doors that the shopping center landlord won't cover.

He said he'd use the remainder to upgrade the dining room space to make it a better experience for customers, and use the tax refunds to pay for more advertising.

The shop is the first Illinois location of Ding Tea, which specializes in milk and flavored teas, and desserts such as bubble waffles, mochi ice cream and macarons.

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