Category Archives: Press

Tea Lounge Franchise featured in New York Times and International Herald Tribute

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.

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Tea Lounge in Crain’s New York

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.

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Tea Lounge to expand to Middle East

“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.

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Burger-Loving Kuwait Becomes Oasis For U.S. Franchises: Retail

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

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Tea Lounge expanding to the Middle East

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.”

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