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Bubble Hut Cafe closing its doors in February

Tea store and Asian fusion restaurant will serve customers for the final time on Feb. 16
Bubble Hut owner Shannon Tang, in black, stands among her bobba barista crew. Team members, from left, include Illeana Kary, Rosie Caouette and Natalie Crosswhite. Tang announced that she would be closing her business later this month (Photo by Gillian Francis)

Bubble Hut Cafe has announced it will be serving its last cups of tea under current ownership on Feb. 16.

The popular bubble tea store and Asian fusion restaurant, located downtown at 11A 14 Ave. South, will be shutting its doors this month, following a difficult decision from owner Shannon Tang.

Tang said she would like another person to take over the cafe, but until she finds someone, the business will remain closed.

Bubble Hut Cafe introduced a unique style of drink to Cranbrook when it opened on May 28, 2021. The restaurant was known for its bobba or “bubbles” that were added to hot and cold beverages, made from Okinawan black sugar. Its pho, Japanese ramen and bahn mi sandwiches were also well-liked.

Tang said that while the cafe was very successful, the demands of the business had become too much.

“Small businesses owners know how difficult it is. You put your heart and soul into it and you spend all of your time thinking about it. You are manager, owner, inventory orderer, shipper, receiver, business owner. It just came to a point where I had to pick between having Bubble Hut and having a life,” she said.

“It’s been an amazing journey and I’ve learned so much. I’ve had a wonderful team. They’re so willing to help out. The support from the community has been great,” she added.

Tang’s husband Simun and brother-in-law John started the business, and Tang was brought on to the team and eventually took over management. Their family has ties to China and Vietnam, and their love for Asian food was the inspiration for the cafe.

“My father-in-law makes Vietnamese food and every time we would go to Calgary we would all stop for bubble tea and Vietnamese food, so that was kind of the inspiration behind our food menu,” said Tang.

“We saw a lack in the market. There were no bubble tea places in the East Kootenay at that time, so we decided why not? Let’s do this.”

Starting a business during Covid with stringent health regulations proved challenging, but the business ultimately flourished.

Tang said she’ll never forget the day they first opened, when people lined up down the block to try their drinks and they had to serve everyone with only two shaker cups and a handful of staff.

The drinks quickly became a hit with high schoolers who would cross the road from Mt. Baker at lunch. One time, Tang and her staff prepared over 100 drinks for students at Kootenay Orchards Elementary School to try.

Tang said she’s sad to see this chapter in her life come to an end, but that she’s optimistic about the future.

“It’s been good, but it’s time for some new adventures,” she said.