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STEAP TEA BAR

STEAP TEA BAR

The store doesn't look like something that would be in Chinatown. - patron comment

The conversion of an 800 SF former hair salon in San Francisco’s Chinatown district into a contemporary boba tea shop that puts a premium twist on an everyday favorite.

San Francisco’s urban landscape is choked with boba tea shops. Their high-gloss neon painted interiors serve a singular version of the sweet boba tea drink first popularized in Taiwan in the 1980’s. We were approached by a young entrepreneur to help create a platform for the introduction of his reimagined craft-inspired product to the city. The small storefront has a minimal street presence and is located on a very active but steeply sloping street in the busy heart of Chinatown. The interior is characterized by very tall ceilings and a narrow plan. Our proposal plays up these proportions in an effort to draw interest (and customers) into the space. The public space is split by a long counter that functions as an active ‘assembly line’ for the product which is created by mixing and then hand shaking a number of ingredients into the house brewed teas. The material palette is simple and relies on standard oak slats, decking boards and strip flooring to create varying textures on the walls and ceiling. The mainly indirect lighting helps set these materials apart from the surrounding surfaces, making them more visible from the street. The result is a budget friendly spatial sophistication that sets the space (and the product) apart as something quite different.

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