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Inspiring Conversations with Chrissy Vorpagel of Cha House Raleigh

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chrissy Vorpagel. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Cha House originally started off as an idea for an investment. Friends of ours were steadily making a name for themselves in Chapel Hill, where they founded the first Cha House house right near UNC. I thought it would be a fun adventure to hop on board when they asked if there was any interest in helping become a franchise. My partner at the time, and I both have quite a bit of restaurant experience and jumped in.

We spent the majority of 2019 planning, learning, and building the business. We were specially trained in the art of making boba from scratch, brewing tea, and cooking some high-end Asian street food. Each recipe is a special family secret from two sisters (Julia and Lulu) who brought Cha House to the states.

We chose to plant ourselves and our own Cha House in Raleigh right next to NC State and by November 2019 we opened our door with a bang! The excitement and learning experience was such a high, as was working with the students of all the local colleges around. We quickly became ingratiated in the community and participated in as many events as we could.

The pandemic hit us hard as a new business, especially being right on campus. However, we’ve managed to stay afloat and create some amazing connections working with and alongside some other amazing female entrepreneurs in the Triangle. I think taking the time to create a community of humans that all want to “make it work” no matter what, has manifested a truly sustainable way to exist despite the last two years’ challenges. Supporting one another seems to work!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The adventurous challenge of starting another business with everything I had financially, not only came with struggles, but also some once-in-a-lifetime hands-on experiences, I wouldn’t give up- even for a smoother road.
Before we even opened, we dealt with the red tape that popped up during the government shut down in 2019 followed by a buildout that took a little longer than expected. After we opened in November 2019, we struggled only with finding the best ways to get our products in as fast as possible. However, a majority of our items are imported directly from Taiwan and take months to arrive, especially during a pandemic and the shipping backup due to the Suez Canal blockage.

During the Pandemic, we had to constantly change our hours of operation and how we were able to continue to offer our product to the public safely for us and our guests. Constantly applying for financial aid and petitioning our lenders and landlords for modifications was probably the most stressful part so far but has definitely provided us with some new problem-solving skills. The financial hardship has by far been the most challenging aspect of opening, owning, and sustaining a restaurant during this time.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Cha House Raleigh is an Asian Street Food and Bubble Tea Shop that specializes in authentic Taiwanese cuisine. All of our products are imported directly from Taiwan and all of our staff are trained using practices and recipes special to the original founders Julia and her sister Lulu.

The whole company is a very dedicated women-founded, owned, and operated business. We all support the rising female entrepreneurs in the Triangle who sell their locally crafted products.

And Cha House Raleigh in particular is a certified Ocean Friendly and Eco-friendly Restaurant. We provide all compostable take-out supplies and offer dine-in options. We even went as far as to locate the best paper Boba Straws in the US to give our guests as good of an experience with their bubble tea as possible while still caring about the Earth and its oceans.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I have a huge thank you to give quite a few Women in the triangle that not only have helped teach me all that I now know but also have believed in a stood by this business with PomPoms and support throughout the most difficult 2 years of my life.

Julia Chu, Lulu Adkinson- the founders who taught me all things boba and tea, Jennifer Schultz- an entrepreneurial inspiration and teacher of all things spreadsheets and finance and risk management (AND still manages to see a silver lining on every gray cloud), Kyla Smith- a dedicated regular who introduced me to an abundance of other amazing female entrepreneurs in the area who I became fast friends with (as new transplant, having a community of women who support one another is huge), And of course all the staff of the Hillsborough St community Service for Live It Up Hillsborough St. who gave us every leg up as a new addition to the Hillsborough St corridor. Las but not least… I deeply value every single employee I‘ve hired and had the honor of working with. They’ve definitely taught me the most about being a good employer.

Contact Info:

  • Email: twoolongteallc@gmail.com
  • Website: www.chahouseusa.com
  • Instagram: @cha_house_raleigh
  • Facebook: Cha House Raleigh

Image Credits
A. Adkinson
A. Hockersmith
G. Hockersmith

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