Coffee export: Slope’s Tea Lounge may become international chain

Coffee export: Slope’s Tea Lounge may become international chain
Photo by Bryan Bruchman

Park Slope’s answer to Starbucks is about to become a bit more like, well, Starbucks.

The Tea Lounge — the neighborhood’s longtime home for laptop-clacking writers and mommy meet-up groups — will become a chain with in-the-works franchise locations under consideration in Long Island, Virginia, and Kuwait, said owner Jonathan Spiel.

“This could turn into something big,” Spiel said. “People have shown interest all over the world.”

Spiel says nothing will change at the sprawling flagship shop on Union Street near Seventh Avenue, where comfy couches host freelancers, musicians — and just about any Park Sloper looking to escape the house for a couple hours.

But the shop’s new transition to a franchise business model will allow would-be partners to tap into their own creative and entrepreneurial spirit by making small community-specific tweaks to their branches — from the music to the beverage selection.

“I want franchisees to be creative,” Spiel said. “In the south, for example, someone might want to add ice tea with lemonade to the menu.”

Cafe owners looking to open a Park Slope-approved business elsewhere in the world can shell out $25,000 and a five percent royalty fee for the right to operate under the Tea Lounge name, use the java joint’s logo and looks, and train workers under the shop’s coffee-making program.

Some of those longtime patrons say they don’t mind their hometown coffee shop expanding, as long the new locations retains some of its soul.

“I like anything that’s homemade and comfortable — if they go to Long Island, I hope they keep that,” said patron David Moody.

The pending expansion comes four years after a beloved Tea Lounge outpost at Seventh Avenue and 10th Street closed down amid a rent dispute.

— with Ben Lockhart

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at [email protected] or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.