New Iowa City business mixes karaoke and bubble tea


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With furniture from California, 3D wallpapers from Europe, and boba tea from Taiwan, a new business in Iowa City is attracting a lot of attention.

Store manager and designer Waiwing Chang partnered with University of Iowa marketing student Edison Wang to open Bubbleology Karoke and Café, 325 E. Washington St. two weeks ago because they wanted to bring their Asian culture to Iowa City.

“In Hong Kong and China, karaoke is popular, so we added boba tea to that idea, and now we have this place,” said Chang,  a former fashion designer in Korea and now a Mount Mercy University graphic-design student.

Patrons of the establishment can enjoy boba tea — a Taiwanese drink made of tea mixed with milk or fruit juice and sometimes with tapioca pearls — in any of the café’s six theme rooms.

Some of the themes include Hello Kitty, Super Mario, Hawkeye, and “One Piece” (a Japanese anime). The rooms each have a big-screen TV, colorful leather furniture, and karaoke machines updated each week with songs in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese. Some rooms include Wii systems.

Patrons can rent rooms for $20 to $60 per hour depending on room size and whether it is a weekday or a weekend.

Chang — who designed the rooms and created the cafe’s menu — said customers come to Bubbleology Karaoke and Café for birthday parties, studying, relaxing, and even wedding rehearsals.

“At first, people come to have a drink, but then we show them the rooms, and they become interested to try it,” Chang said.

The theme rooms have proven to be a successful option for students who don’t want to go to a bar on the weekends — so far, the rooms has been completely booked on Fridays and Saturdays until the business closes at midnight.

UI actuarial-science student Travis Gaule, a regular customer of Bubbleology, said he prefers the cafe’s atmosphere over other more traditional coffee shops downtown.

“Every other place is kind of dull, but here, it is more lively; the designs are unique and original,” he said. “And also, the furniture is very comfortable.”

UI accounting and finance student Ling Li, an employee at Bubbleology, said the establishment has 24 boba-tea flavors right now, and by next week, it will add two more.

“We have a lot of choices here, and we try very hard to make the best boba tea,” she said. “We don’t want to stay where we are — we want to always improve.”

The café is working on adding different coffee products to the menu.

Another regular customer, Kiki Li, said she has never seen better customer service than at Bubbleology.

“They ask their customers how the milk tea tastes, and if the customer says it’s too sweet, they’ll make a new one for free,” said the UI nursing student. “I haven’t seen that in other stores.”

Most Popular Flavors:
Original Milk Tea with tapioca bubbles
Honey Dew Boba Tea
Strawberry Boba Tea
Thai Tea

Business Hours:
10:30 a.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday
10:30 a.m.-4 a.m. Friday/Saturday
Noon-4 a.m. Saturday/Sunday

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