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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Zenwich X Elitea Bringing Asian-Influenced Sandwiches And Bubble Tea To Wicker Park

With Thai barbecue pork sandwiches and a range of bubble tea flavors, the restaurant aims to be "like the Asian-style McDonald's."

Zenwich owner Chai Ploentham ahead of the opening of new his sandwich and bubble tea shop, 1415 N. Milwaukee Ave., in Wicker Park
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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WICKER PARK — A sandwich and bubble tea spot is opening next week in Wicker Park.

Local franchises Zenwich and Elitea bubble tea are teaming up to open Zenwich X Elitea Monday at the former site of Yuzuya, 1415 N. Milwaukee Ave.

The restaurant will offer Asian-style sandwiches, like Thai barbecue pork belly, Korean cheesesteaks and Japanese-style breaded chicken.

Each sandwich will also be available as a quinoa bowl or in a rice paper wrap.

“I think Zenwich fits into this neighborhood. Something that’s not ordinary, [but] quick, fast,” said Chai Ploentham, who bought the company in 2019. “We only have six items … so people can order and can make a decision in a minute.”

The Wicker Park storefront will be Zenwich’s fourth franchise. Ploentham also operates locations in Aurora, Elmhurst and St. Louis.

Ploentham said when he started planning to open in Wicker Park, he saw an opening to sell bubble tea and other drinks. That’s when he reached out Elitea co-owner Jerry Liu.

“My favorite bubble tea in Chicago is Elitea. So I contacted [Liu], ‘Can we collaborate? We can do, like, licensing or franchising; we can open a store together.'”

Elitea has expanded in recent years from their flagship Chinatown storefront to several suburban locations.

Bubble tea flavors at the Wicker Park store range from a variety of milk and fruit teas, with cheese and boba toppings available.

Zenwich X Elitea will be cashier-less. All orders will be placed online or on tablets at the front of the restaurant.

“We’re going to be like the Asian-style McDonald’s,” Liu said.

Zenwich X Elitea will be open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Sample bubble teas at Zenwich and Elitea’s new collaborative location in Wicker Park

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