Currently taking TikTok by storm, the Asian refreshment of bubble tea has reached peek popularity here in western Europe.
And Middlesbrough-born businesswoman, Samantha Johnstone has now expanded her Sunderland based boba tea company to the heart of her hometown.
“It’s just so nice to be back in Boro, the town centre is definitely changing and developing, there is a vibrant buzz around the place.” beams, Samantha.
Nestled on Corporation Road, Samantha runs Lucky Cat Boba alongside her daughter, Millie.
“Up until a few years ago, I didn’t have any previous experience within the hospitality sector.
“My background is working in health and safety roles at the region’s Nissan plant, however I was inspired by work trips to Japan, where I tried their delicious cuisine and fell in love with their culture.
“Each work trip, I would bring home a lucky cat statue for my daughter which has gone on to inspired the name of the business.” said, Samantha.
Bubble tea is the most popular product at the cafe.
Alongside their signature drinks, the café serves up bubble waffles, pancake stacks, ice cream sundaes and much more.
Each dish at the café is 100% vegetarian.
“We’re a vegetarian family, so it is important to us that our products match our ethics. At the moment, about 50% of our food and drinks are vegan friendly too.
“In store, we also pride ourselves of being able to offer a wide range of different milks which are suitable for all diets.” mentions Samantha.
Fans of the eatery can also pick up eco-friendly merch which range from reusable cups, tote bags and DIY kits where you can recreate your favourite drinks at home.
Since opening in early January, the café has become popular amongst the town’s student population but Samantha states that people from a diverse range of backgrounds have visited to check out the newly renovated venue.
“People have been intrigued by our clean, fresh aesthetic. We’ve had quite a few members of the public pop in to thank us for investing in Middlesbrough.” said Samantha.
But it’s just not humans who can enjoy a sweet treat at Lucky Cat Boba, canines are well catered for too.
From puppuccinos to doggy ice cream to biscuits, four-legged friends are welcome to dine at the eatery alongside their owners.
Set over three floors, Samantha and family have big plans to extend the business.
“We are currently renovating the second floor to expand our seating area. The upper floor will become a fully equipped kitchen where we can offer more savoury options to our customers.
“It’s a very exciting time for the business and we’re proud to have opened the café here in Middlesbrough.” said, Samantha.
The cafe’s full menu can be viewed by visiting their website. They also offer a 10% discount scheme for all students and NHS staff with valid ID.