Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tea World... No Reservations Needed

San Francisco, CA - Exploring the suburbs of San Francisco alongside new acquaintances, I found myself at Eureka Square Shopping Center off of Pacific Coast Highway near the corner of Eureka Dr. and Ocean Blvd. I imagine it would have been a scenic drive by day as I smell the ocean breeze only 2 blocks away, but it was dark outside and just about store closing time.  Except, this tall, dark and handsome dude calling us, “Come in, I’m still open, just cleaning up.” I guess I am not missing the best view after all!

Jeffrey Manalang, just like his father has a sweet tooth and is a boba fanatic prompting him to open Tea World, which offers flavored bubble teas or pearl milk teas and Mitchell’s Ice Cream on its menu. It came about when Jeff scouted for a location to expand his sausage business and found Eureka Square in Pacifica. Since it is in a commercial area, and he wanted families and children to visit his store, he thought why not open a small take-out milk tea and ice cream store.  Tea World was then born!

At this point, it is past store closing time while Jeff’s humble demeanor, motivating stories and positive outlook made us hang out longer which he didn’t mind, anyway there’s a lot more after hours cleaning up to do. A self-made entrepreneur, Jeff has an inspiring life story defining success as, “…when you feel inner peace, contentment and happiness in life, as well as when you receive love and be able to give love to others.”

Sheila: What is Tea World’s philosophy?
Jeff: Our philosophy is to provide the community with premium quality milk tea drinks and award winning products, such as Mitchell’s Ice Cream, at a reasonable price and a commitment to excellence and friendly customer service.

S: What is Tea World’s best selling item?
J: Horchata, Taro and Thai Tea are our best sellers. New flavor combinations that we design and offer as monthly specials are also popular.

S: What would you recommend for first time guests? And what is your fave item on the menu?
J: If you love milk tea, try our hose special Chocolate-Caramel Milk Tea with Coffee Jelly.  Other than that, my favorite is the Honeydew-Lychee with Coconut Jelly.  While we tell our customers the best selling flavors, we can customize their drinks based on their preferences.

S: What are the biggest challenges that you faced in starting and running Tea World? Do you have any advise to young entrepreneurs?
J: The biggest challenges in the beginning are looking for the right location, dealing with property managers, applying for business/building/health permits, etc. My advice is, be patient and persistent in doing this tedious process. On a daily business, we face hard-to-please customers, employees who commit petty crimes in the store, finding the right suppliers and keeping up with new products out there.  To overcome these, screen employees well and never stop learning and making things exciting for the store. 

S: It is evident that Tea World is not only a fave local hang out, but also by word of mouth a “must visit” snack bar for out-of-towners like me.  Has there been any celebrity sighting at Tea World?
J: Some beauty queens, model friends and fashion designers have visited my store.

S: OMG! That is why you look familiar!  We’ve walked in a fashion show together in San Francisco! With your looks, I have a feeling that you are in fashion and/or film industry. Could you divulge more?
J: Back home, I was a member of the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP) and did modeling abroad on European tours for Filipino designers and Middle East for famous brands, as well as locally on ramp, print, and TV commercials.  For small roles, I appeared on Philippine TV as an actor alongside top caliber artists. When time permits, I still do modeling.

Jeff Manalang's previous modeling work for Renee Salud, Patis Tesoro, Barge Ramos, etc.

S: How was the adjustment from walking the runways to owning a business?
J: Growing up with a business-oriented family, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit actively seeking out change and growth.  Aside from modeling and acting, I used to own and operate multi-million-PHP (Philippine Peso) businesses in the Philippines as a restaurateur, feeds distributor, trucking business and operated fisheries.  When I came to the US in 2004, I started from scratch “with no reservations” and worked very hard to move my way up. My first job was at Neiman Marcus in Dallas and got an award for my dedication and hard work.  I was able to buy houses as investment properties in Texas and hope to buy more houses to get into house flipping business.  Before, Tea World, I started a sausage business, producing “longganisa” (Asian sausage) and supplying supermarkets and restaurants. I’m still making “longganisa” and looking to expand different kinds of meat products. I was also a specialist in the US Army (a veteran now).  These prove that anything is possible as long as you put your mind and heart in achieving your goals.

S: I admire you and your energy! Who is your role model or inspiration that keeps you going?
J: My mom is my role model! She inspires me to excel in whatever I do because when I was a kid, I saw how hard she worked to provide for us and send to the best schools in Manila.  I remember her braving storms and floods just to continuously support the family.  She’s a supermom despite of her lack of education; she did not even finished high school.

Jeff with his mother.

Jeff came from a family of entrepreneurs and servicemen.

S: What is your mantra?
J: The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire, your dream and how you handle disappointments along the way.  Through hard work and unwavering determination, anything is possible.

  • Quickly on a lighter note…
  • Morning or Night - Night person
  • Name your fave super hero – Superman
  • Coffee or Tea – both love milk tea more
  • Fave food – Burritos and Vietnamese Pho
  • Personal Style – Classic casual… shorts, comfy shoes & plain tees
  • I you could speak with one person, past or present, who would it be?  - Pope Francis
  • Finish the sentence:
  • You will be surprised to see _____! – the amount of shoes I have, I’m a male version of Imelda =)
  • I will never get rid of _____. – Shoes!

I forgot to ask this fine guy if he is single or available. Oh well, I guess you’ll just have to visit Tea World at 90 Eureka Square, Suite E. No reservations needed, they are open Monday-Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Tell Jeff you read about him here at F Magazine via "Chasing Sheila" and you’ll get a special discount on your order.

(Photo credits Jeffrey Manalang)


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