New tea shop confident it can succeed where previous one failed

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They might be smudged out a bit, but the words “GG’s Bubble Tea” are still visible on the awning above the entrance to The Dragon’s Cup, a tea shop that opened Uptown in March. Despite this, the folks who run the new joint want the people of Athens to know that their operation bears no affiliation to that which previously occupied the space at 19 S. Court St.

In addition to more food options — such as genuine ramen dishes, not this stuff — The Dragon’s Cup offers a wider selection of beverages than GG’s Bubble Tea once did. The drinks that are now available are also more authentic than what was offered in the past, said Katie Tolerton, 24, a store employee.

“[Our management] knows how traditional teas should be prepared. They know all the details of all the teas we have,” Tolerton said. “They don’t make up things about flavors and benefits.

“I don’t know how GG’s was, like I don’t know how detailed they made their employees be, but I think that’s one of the biggest differences, is educating the staff on what we’re actually serving.”

Justin Fetters, 22, described himself as the store’s general manager-in-training. His tea expertise contributes to The Dragon Cup’s devotion to making the product the way it should be made.

The tea shop has been open less than two months, but Fetters said it already has attracted a specific group of people.

“We have a lot of performing arts majors who come here,” Fetters said. “They come here because they can get away from the world. They can do what they need to do, study, have a place where they can be themselves.”

Tolerton said that appealing to such a crowd is an easy task. “You give them something even remotely off the beaten path,” she said, “and they’ll be like, ‘Ooh! Let’s claim it before anyone else can.'”

While Tolerton admitted that The Dragon Cup’s style of service is similar to that of GG’s, she said that’s about where the comparisons end. People can now walk through the door and expect to order quality drinks made by a staff that truly knows some of the finer points in tea production and herbalism.

“We do teas,” Fetters said. “Hot teas, cold teas, iced teas, bubble teas, and coffee and espresso products.”

The Dragon’s Cup aims at serving Athens by offering plenty of healthy options, much of which is produced with stuff from local sources. It also stays open 24 hours a day during Ohio University’s Finals Week, making its basement available as a study lounge for overwhelmed students.

Fetters said that, while the tea shop has plenty of regulars and business has been good, it’s still waiting on a lot of things, including a new awning.

“I just think it’s that, since we’re new, people still think we’re GG’s,” Fetters said, “and they have that preconceived notion of what it used to be.”

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About Mark Emery

Mark Emery is a recent Ohio University alum who covers baseball prospects for MiLB.com in New York City. You can email him at mark.emery.1018@gmail.com.
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