AM NEW YORK, October 23 – Chocolate chai had a short-lived run with the green mermaid, but the chocolate chai at this cozy Park Slope cafe is a staple. All of their special lattes are available with a shot of Kahlua or Baileys if you really want to add some holiday spirit…Read More>>
Whether you like espresso, a cappuccino or a soy chocolate iced mocha, New York City has just the coffee shop for you. But finding great coffee, a laptop-friendly policy with fast Internet, and a few hours of productivity is a rare combo.
member the first time I came to this place, when a friend who had just moved to the city for graduate school dragged me here with lots of wide-eyed hyperbole about how he’d found the greatest place ever with the nicest people and the best food to work on whatever it was he was working on. As it turned out, he was totally right.
“This idea of creating a community-based environment in a cafe felt very appealing to me. It had to be a place where people could feel at home. I have tasked my employees with building these relationships that will support the community so in turn, the community will support us,” Spiel explained.
After twelve years of running two small, organic tea shops in the New York borough of Brooklyn, Jonathan Spiel had to close one down when his landlord increased the rent in 2009. Facing that setback, Mr. Spiel decided to look into selling Tea Lounge franchises to expand into new markets and keep his business going.
The Tea Lounge’s first franchise opened this year, in Kuwait.
Tea Lounge blends into Kuwaiti culture, which emphasizes gathering over tea and whose per-capita income is the world’s fifth highest. “It’s a booming economy,” Mr. Spiel said. “It’s a very social culture, which fits in great with my concept.”
That concept is part café, part bar and part live-music venue. Mr. Spiel said the Kuwait outpost’s menu will add cheesecake, a local favorite, and will leave out the alcohol and prosciutto sandwiches.
Becoming a franchise owner is hard work—in addition to learning about the company you’re working with, the process involves communicating with customers, running numbers, publicity and everything in between. But, Spiel notes, there are perks: “All the legwork—from concept to implementation—is already done for you.”
“I went through all the café franchises,” said Jonathan Spiel, Tea Lounge’s owner. “There’s nothing else like this, that has the café/entertainment/bar feature.”
Now he has decided to turn Tea Lounge into a franchise and recently signed a deal with his first franchisee, a Kuwaiti businessman named Mohammed al Arbash who plans to open his first Tea Lounge in a Kuwait City shopping mall in November.
How does a Brooklyn lounge that boasts a bar and is popular with nursing mothers become a winning concept in an Arab country where alcohol is banned and women must be modest?
“It’s a tea culture, yet there are no tea places,” said Spiel.
While that’s not technically true, the desert state does have two things Brooklyn lacks: oil money and a hunger for more U.S. brands
The region also has robust consumer culture, said Jonathan Spiel, owner of Tea Lounge in Brooklyn, N.Y., whose first franchised agreement will cover not the United States but Kuwait.
“It’s a very social culture, and going to malls and socializing is a big part of their day,” Spiel said. “Because of that, the malls there are unbelievable: Every brand you can think of is there, and the locals want to develop something unique and cool.”