Gong cha signs 30 unit agreement for Puerto Rico

Gong cha, the world’s premier bubble tea brand with nearly 2,200 locations across 24 countries, has announced the signing of a 30-unit development agreement in partnership with SID Tea LLC.

Led by a group of experienced QSR franchisors—including Jose Vazquez, former vice president of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, and former president of ASORE (the Puerto Rico Restaurant Association) – the deal comes on the heels of a successful entry into the Puerto Rico market, with the opening of the island’s first two stores in San Juan and Manatí in spring 2024. The team is on track to open two additional stores this summer, and a fifth by the end of 2024.

Founded in Taiwan in 2006, Gong cha first entered the Americas using a master franchise model. The brand recently introduced opportunities for direct franchising, and signed SID Tea as its first direct franchisors based upon their wealth of operational experience. The leadership team of SID Tea – one of the largest Subway operators in the world– boasts an extensive portfolio of brands, managing over 180 units including Subway, Wingstop, and Acai Express. In introducing Gong cha to the local market, the strategy is to open multiple brands within their portfolio in the same location in order to maximise traffic and drive new customers to try the product, and to open in multiple types of locations ranging from larger free standing units with drive-thrus, to smaller kiosks within shopping centers.

Bubble tea is a rapidly growing category, projected to climb from a global market size of $2.63 billion in 2024 to $4.78bn by 2032, and Gong cha has an early mover advantage in Puerto Rico. “Puerto Rico is traditionally a coffee market, and although there has been rising interest in bubble tea – especially among Gen Z and millennial consumers – there isn’t an island-wide bubble tea brand. We are here to fill that gap,” said Lyle Swanson, president of SID Tea.

Opened in early May, the first locations in San Juan and Manatí are posting strong sales numbers and generating excitement from the community. The success of the multi-brand, co-location concept is evident in the new Gong cha stores, which have effectively complemented SID Tea’s existing portfolio.

“We specifically chose to partner with Gong cha based on its premium quality products, the strength of the brand, and the ease of its operating model,” said Mario Gaztambide, director of operations of SID Tea. “The resounding success and warm reception the brand has experienced in the Puerto Rico market within such a short timeframe has truly exceeded our expectations. Gong cha quickly validated its ease of operations, and seamlessly complements our existing brands. Based on these results, we’re delighted to make a larger commitment to grow Gong cha across the island.”

In addition to introducing a high quality product to consumers, SID Tea is proud to be creating jobs and spurring economic growth in Puerto Rico. “In 2024 we plan to invest over one million dollars in opening our first five locations, and expect to hire between 12 and 15 employees per site, creating around 75 jobs this year between store workers, construction projections, and supply chain managers,” said Ramón Gaztambide, director of new brand development of SID Tea.

“With seasoned franchise partners like SID Tea, I can’t imagine the Gong cha brand in better hands to expand our footprint and create more loyal guests in new markets,” said Geoff Henry, president of Gong cha Americas. “We also feel confident in their plan to open multi-brand locations, which will create operational synergies and further accelerate growth.”

The first Gong cha Puerto Rico store is located at 1705 Calle San Javier, San Juan, and the second store is located at Plaza Atenas Shopping Center on 9 PR 2, Manatí.

Gong cha is accepting qualified new franchisee candidates to continue its monumental growth across the US and the Americas. For more information on Gong cha’s franchise programme, visit: gongchausofficial.com.

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