Jeanne Park’s entire family pitched in to handle the grand opening crowd September 2 at Palgong Tea, Park’s new bubble-tea shop in the former Espresso Royale in Woodland Plaza. Her eldest son, Yeajoon Lee, a recent U-M business grad, came up with a brilliant social media promotion—free tea for a year for the first eighty customers—that had some people  lined up before dawn. Yeajoon managed customer flow while his sister, Yeajee, and brother, Yeahoon, worked the register and prepared drinks, while father Heungho Lee replenished supplies. 

“My mom has wanted to open her own business for years—she’s a great cook and server,” explained Yeajoon, as Park, in apron and hat, greeted old friends and new customers near the front of the airy, plant-filled space. A relative who handles Palgong’s licensing agreements had introduced the family to the South Korean company. (Yeajoon and his siblings were born in South Korea but grew up in the states and went to Ann Arbor Public Schools.) Park’s store is just the second Palgong franchise in the U.S., after one in Glenview, Illinois. 

Palgong—the name means “eighty” in Korean, the ideal temperature in Celsius to brew tea—offers fruit and milk teas, coffee drinks, and carbonated fruit-ades. Yeajoon says the fruit-ades were a customer favorite on opening day, along with the brown sugar milk tea and taro milk tea. The tea is sourced from the brand’s own tea farm in Indonesia and is brewed daily. 

Staff were handing out samples of Korean corn dogs on opening day, and Yeajoon says “people are loving them.” They use Park’s batter recipe, and they’re filled with sausage or cheese—or both—with toppings including chopped potatoes, sugar, sweet mayo, or sweet mustard. 

“My favorite food is my mom’s food,” explains Yeajoon, and he says she’s got more menu ideas to come.

Palgong Tea, 2264 S. Main (Woodland Plaza), (734) 882–2870. Daily 11 a.m.–9 p.m. (may open earlier on U-M football game days). Instagram: a2palgongtea

Got a restaurant or retail tip? Email