A trio of new specialty cafes on McHenry Avenue aims to keep Modesto well hydrated and happy.
Two Asian-inspired bubble tea cafes have recently opened on the busy thoroughfare, and a juice bar is coming soon. The drink shops are all part of popular franchises, some that originated overseas and others here in the states.
Newly open are Kung Fu Tea, specializing in milk teas and blended drinks, and Quickly, which sells bubble teas, slushes and more. Coming in March will be Nekter Juice Bar, a fresh pressed-juice cafe.
Kung Fu Tea, a New York-based bubble tea brand with about 200 shops in the U.S., Australia, Canada and Vietnam, is on north McHenry and Sylvan avenues in the same shopping complex as Marshalls. The cafe opened in November and has been serving up a wide selection of iced teas, punches, slushes, smoothies and more. Each cup is then individually sealed with a plastic wrap top, for to-go convenience. And, like an adult Capri Sun, you punch the straw through the film.
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But what sets it apart from regular cafes are the so-called “bubbles,” also known as boba or tapioca pearls. The small, sweet, chewy spheres can be added to any drink and then slurped up through extra wide straws. The boba is made fresh every three hours in the shop. The shop also has dairy and non-dairy options for its teas.
Kung Fu Tea manager Louis Vo said it’s the variety of choices that keeps people coming back for more. The colorful and serene interior also helps, offering customers the choice of regular tables or low tables with pillow seating in the back. The shop has a variety of board games for people to play while they hang out and enjoy their drinks. Prices range from $2.95 to $3.70 for smalls and $4.45 to $5.45 for large.
Nearby, just about two blocks south of Kung Fu Tea in the shopping center at the corner of McHenry and Rumble Road, is the city’s first Quickly cafe. The new shop is part of one of the largest milk tea franchises in the world. Started in Taiwan, Quickly has more than 2,000 locations worldwide.
Co-owners Sam Kaur and Vick Singh opened Modesto’s first Quickly, a few doors down from the Bellavagos Day Spa, to offer iced milk teas, slushes, snow drinks, smoothies and milkshakes. The cafe also serves egg puff and mochi waffles and will soon add more food. Milk teas are offered in close to 20 flavors, ranging from taro to mango, jasmine and peppermint.
There are boba and other topping options that complete each drink. They have everything from traditional boba to popping boba (tapioca pearls with liquid filling), jellies, red bean and aloe vera pearls. Like at Kung Fu Tea, each finished drink is then topped with a plastic film from a specialized machine. Drinks range in price from $3.50 to $4.25.
The first-time cafe owners said they picked Quickly because the franchise gives its owners the freedom to add to their menu. Kaur said that next week, they plan to start adding French fries, popcorn shrimp, chicken bites, fried shrimp and calamari to their menu. And down the road, rice bowls, banh mi sandwiches and Indian food could be added as well.
“Quickly is all about Asian fusion. We’ve been soft open for about two weeks without food because we wanted people to get used to the atmosphere and vibe,” said Kaur, who graduated from California State University, Stanislaus, in 2016.
And finally, look out for the new Nekter Juice Bar in the Safeway shopping complex, at the corner of McHenry and Briggsmore avenues. Located next to Orangetheory Fitness, the cafe will offer fresh-pressed juices and other healthy options.
Owner Mark Sarale ran the Max Muscle in Modesto for 15 years before selling it four months ago. He still owns the site in Stockton. He was attracted to Nekter because of its healthy options and vegan drinks using house-made cashew milk instead of dairy milk. Besides juice, the shop will also sell smoothies, acai bowls and vegan ice cream.
Sarale said he plans to start hiring for about 15 positions next month and open in March. The site, at 2001 McHenry Ave., Suite N, is currently under construction. For more information, visit www.nekterjuicebar.com.
Marijke Rowland: 209-578-2284, @marijkerowland