By Elena Kadvany
'Starting a restaurant was far more difficult than starting a tech company.' Palo Alto's Teaquation cafe to closeUploaded: Nov 21, 2019
Downtown Palo Alto's Teaquation will close next week after four years of business.
The 115 Hamilton Ave. cafe's last day of business will be Saturday, Nov. 30, owner Mercedes Mapua wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday.
"I started this journey wanting to create products that spark joy, foster a warm inviting environment, and provide opportunities and second chances," she wrote. "Little did I know, starting a restaurant was far more difficult than starting a tech company. (It's true!) It is capital and labor intensive, back breaking, grueling hours, and now going through major disruption."
From left, Teaquation's Sunset Boulevard, The Joker, Orange n' Black and Lucky Break drinks. Photo by Michelle Le.
Mapua, a former tech designer from the Philippines, opened the first Teaquation in Redwood City in 2016. She expanded to 115 Hamilton Ave. in Palo Alto last summer and closed the Redwood City cafe soon after.
In an email, Mapua elaborated on the reasons for the closure, from labor cost and tight margins to underestimating the amount of capital she would need to to sustain the business.
"Food margin is low, so any small loss is difficult for restaurants to absorb. Owners resort to cutting cost on labor and quality, which results to poor service and experience and it snowballs from there," she said. "Without significant investment or capital, restaurant owners usually can't afford tech to help them cut labor costs or automate."
She added that she feels strongly that "restaurants that offer good food fuels the workforce. I wish someone could step up and help restaurant owners secure capital."
Teaquation initially focused on serving drinks made from fresh-steeped tea, fruits and homemade ingredients but in Palo Alto expanded to tea-based cocktails and more extensive food options.
The cafe's hours will remain the same until Nov 30. except it will be closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday (Nov. 29).