CAVA, Gong Cha Bubble coming soon to Drag

Meara Isenberg

Students craving bubble tea or a healthy Mediterranean meal can soon get their fix at two new spots opening on Guadalupe Street this spring.

International bubble tea chain Gong Cha and Washington D.C.-based restaurant CAVA will debut in the next few months, providing convenient quick bites to busy Drag commuters.

First up is CAVA, a locally sourced, health-conscious restaurant opening in Urban Outfitters’ Space 24 Twenty. The eatery features bowls filled with signature meats such as spicy lamb meatballs as well as roasted vegetables that are traded out each season of the year.

“You can come in and get a salad as your base and layer it with toppings down the line, or you can get rice, you can get a pita,” CAVA spokesperson Ben Famous said. “The flavors to expect are really bold … really there is something
for everybody.”

Famous said CAVA started in Washington D.C. and has since made its mark with dips sold in Whole Foods stores and multiple locations across the country. The restaurant is expected to open later this spring, and will be CAVA’s first site in Austin. Famous said the location will include both indoor and outdoor seating.

“We want you to be able to come into our restaurant and have that ability to relax and enjoy yourself, take a moment, connect with friends,” Famous said. “But on the other side to that, we also want to make it easy to get our food (quickly).”

To provide more convenience for customers, Famous said the restaurant offers a free app that allows busy students to order a bowl ahead of time and set a specific time for pick up.

Farther down the Drag, a sign already hangs on the Dobie Mall for Gong Cha Bubble. The location is the first of many that owner Ellie Huang plans to bring to the Austin area, and she said it will ideally open in about three months, before students go home for the summer.

Huang said she decided to bring the tea chain franchise — which currently boasts 1,500+ locations around the world — to students on campus to reach a more diverse generation of tea drinkers.

“Already the brand has been accepted by the people, especially a lot of Asian people,” Huang said. “Now is a time for us to bring in not only the Asian community but also different communities as well.”

Huang said what sets Gong Cha apart from other bubble tea chains is not only the natural sugar that is used in their drinks but also the brand’s signature milk foam topping.

“The milk foam is a layered lightly salted cream on top of tea,” Huang said. “The fresh tea taste will not change, but with some salty cream taste (added) to that, it actually makes quite a difference.”

Samantha Hernandez, human development and family studies sophomore, said both of the new spots coming to Guad sound interesting, but she is particularly excited about Gong Cha.

“I like trying new things,” Hernandez said. “I’m trying to cut myself back, but if they are going to put (a bubble tea shop) in Dobie, I might come back every week.”