Nate and Armie Mangoba opened Quickly Boba Cafe on December 15, and in just two months of business, they have taken the Tontine Mall Complex by storm with their authentic boba creations. The franchise, based in California, was originally uprooted in Taiwan and has gained rapid popularity in Brunswick.
The Mangobas are not new to the restaurant business; they owned and operated a successful Asian restaurant for years while working full-time jobs themselves as well.
“We had a business before, but we closed it down during Covid[-19] because my parents were also retiring. So we’ve been wanting to open up a new business,” Armie said. “We’ve actually been looking for a spot here in downtown for about two years, but we couldn’t find any open spots because people would scoop them up really quickly.”
When The Music Center closed, the Mangobas took half the space and transformed it to fit the vision for their boba shop.
“We did everything here ourselves. My husband painted everything, and I did all of the decorations and the concept. I wanted the shop to be very inviting, a little modern and really catered towards a younger crowd,” Armie said.
When deciding to open Quickly, the Mangobas were inspired by their eldest son, who urged them to introduce a boba shop to the Brunswick food scene.
“My oldest son goes to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and he always visits a boba shop in town with his friends. They’re not old enough to go to bars, and it’s not too expensive to hang out there, so they go there all the time. He told us that we should put one in here because it’s right beside a college,” Armie said.
Armie commented that while Brunswick has many restaurants with a diverse range of cuisines, the town lacks many options that appeal to college students in particular.
Thus, they created the shop with Bowdoin students in mind, knowing that they could visit and hang out there. Although they acknowledged that Bowdoin students have made up a large portion of their customers so far, their audience has extended beyond their original expectations. Anticipating an exclusively young customer base, the Mangoba’s were surprised to garner an elderly audience curious about boba.
Interest in Quickly has extended beyond Brunswick, with customers coming from near and far to try out the shop’s drinks.
“Last month, people from New Hampshire drove up here. We also have people from Colby who drive 55 minutes, and they’ve been coming back weekly with more people each time!” Armie said.
At first, the Mangobas were weary about opening in the winter, but they have been pleasantly surprised by the attention they’ve received so far and are looking forward to the warmer seasons.
“It’s always winter in Maine, but in spite of the weather, [Quickly’s] been doing okay. We were going to close because of the cold last weekend, but we couldn’t because people were still coming here! We’re surviving the winter, so we expect to do very well in the summer,” Nate said.
So what’s the true secret behind their drinks that keeps customers coming back? Armie says that their flavors and quality products are unmatched by most boba franchises in the United States.
“Quickly is a franchise based in California, but it really started in Taiwan, where boba originates. We visit a Quickly store when we go to California, and it tastes nothing like boba shops here because they’re doing it in an authentic way,” Armie said. “We use real teas in our base, the syrups are all made from fruits and the quality is really good, which is why we picked Quickly to do a franchise.”
Not only does Quickly serve an expansive selection of drinks, but it also serves a variety of unique dishes. The Mangobas agreed that the orange chicken bowl, the popcorn chicken and the takoyaki have been some of their best-selling items along with their favorite drinks, the tiger tea and the taro jasmine.
They hope to continue innovating and expanding their business in the future with more flavors and potentially even more shops around Maine. They also plan to sell soft serve ice cream in the future.
Perhaps the most significant part of their business is what lies at its core—their dedication to their family and children.
“[My husband] retired to do this after working for L.L. Bean for the last 16 years. I still work at the MaineHealth Institute for Research. We work hard because we want to do this for our children. We want to help them in college, and this is why we really got into this business,” Armie said. “Building this is going to take a lot of time, patience and hard work, but we’re ready to work because it’s for our boys. This is all for them. This is for their future.”