O-CHA Tea Bar Re-Opens Today After 8 Month Hiatus

  • By cvbizz
  • October 8, 2020
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Vincent Harris

After nearly eight months, O-CHA Tea Bar, located near River St. downtown, reopened on Thursday, Oct 8th at 9am. The last time the tea room, restaurant and coffee bar was open for inside service was on Saturday, March 21st.

Since then, O-CHA tea bar’s owner, Mallie Turner Marjarais, has been patient while other restaurants reopened, waiting until she felt the time was right.

“I thought the case numbers were still too high to risk me and my staff coming in,” Marjarais says. “And as other restaurants started closing a week or two into being open because they had people testing positive, I thought that I’d made a good decision not to open if that was happening around me.”

The difference now is that Marjarais feels like she and her staff are ready to operate safely.

“I felt like we’d learned enough to know how to keep us and our customers safe,” she says. “We got a system down for how to scale down our menu, we’re able to stock gloves and masks for the staff, and there were a lot of things that fell into place.”

In order to maintain that level of safety, O-CHA tea bar (which first opened in 2005) has made some changes. They’ll still have their extensive menu of delicious bubble teas, loose-leaf teas (to-go or in bulk), their signature coffee-tea latTEA blends, and more, but they won’t be serving food. They also won’t be allowing indoor seating; it’s to-go orders only for now.

“We’ve had to redesign how people order, really,” Marjarais says. “You cannot come inside except to the register, and then you’ll go back outside to wait for your drink to be made. We’ll have chalk marks on the sidewalk every six feet, and there won’t be a line inside.”

Marjarais is optimistic about the O-CHA’s safety measures, but she’s uncertain how the reopening itself will go.

“This is probably the scariest time,” she says, “even more than when we first opened. But I think we can keep ourselves safe.”

And Marjarais is hopeful that the same loyal customers who have kept her in business since 2005 will return and respect the new rules.

“We’ve had a lot of really good support over the years,” she says. “The only reason we were able to reopen after our original relocation from Main St. is because of our following of original customers. We have customers that have been coming in for 15 years, which feels amazing to say. There aren’t a lot of downtown restaurants that have been around for 15 years. We’ve been crazy lucky; we’ve lasted through a recession and a pandemic.”

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