What lies beyond the pandemic? MassForward is MassLive’s series examining the journey of Massachusetts’ businesses through and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
Out the front door of OneZo, the Worcester Public Market hides the reason why its owners chose to open a boba tea cafe in the Canal District.
A crane shooting up skyward, though, acts as the identifier. The excitement of the construction of Polar Park brought James Ta to Worcester, specifically to invest in the Canal District.
Ta signed a lease in September of 2019, two months before receiving franchise rights to produce OneZo boba tea.
It was a risk, but one Ta was willing to take to be within the vicinity of the new home of the Worcester Red Sox within the Canal District.
“The WooSox, that’s why we decided [on Worcester], because the baseball team that’s coming to Kelley Square in this area,” Ta said. “We love this area and hopefully it’s a great location to expand our business.”
OneZo Worcester is the second location in Massachusetts. The first is in Quincy.
The franchise from Taiwan is described as “high quality milk tea with house made boba.” The boba, a tapioca type ingredient, is made daily in Worcester.
Originally, OneZo planned to open in early 2020, Ta said, but the coronavirus delayed the opening. Specifically, Ta said construction on the Water Street location was paused.
OneZo opened at the end of July. Ta was immediately rewarded for his confidence in the Canal District.
A line wrapped around the building beyond its neighbor Unrivaled Training and down Water Street.
The excitement spilled inside with about a dozen people waiting to try the boba while socially distancing.
“Sales continue to increase,” Ta said. “We have a lot of frequent customers. But some of them come back every day.”
The tea comes in many varieties, from milk tea and to green tea fruit tea.
The response will likely lead to more jobs within the Canal District.
OneZo has already hired seven people, but is looking to hire more full-time and part-time staff.
There’s really only one resume requirement.
“We’re continually looking for more people, who love boba,” Ta said.