Bee & Tea is more than Nohea Tano’s first foray into business. The former University of Hawaii volleyball player sees the shop — known for its boba teas — as a a family-friendly environment and afterschool place for kids to hang out with friends.
It’s a vision built on her experience growing up in Kailua and, now, as a mom with three boys ages 5 to 15.
“I fell in love with the product when we were living in California,” said Tano, former wife of ex-UH and NFL player Travis LaBoy. “Kailua is the perfect place. There is a lot of morning traffic in this area a lot of places close early.
“We want to change that, create an environment where kids can come after school. We’ll have wi-fi and games for them. We’ll be trying to stay open until 9.”
The shop at 131 Hekili Street is across from Pali Lanes. It offers the Taiwanese milk boba drink — with tapioca pearls soaked in honey — in various flavors as well as fruit smoothies, lemonades, acai bowls and bao buns (manapua) filled with a choice of vegetables, miso steak or kalua pork.
Tano, a Kamehameha Schools product who played for the Rainbow Wahine from 2001-03, said the shop also will host special events. The first will be an appearance next month by her niece, 2012 Olympic gold medal gymnast Kyla Ross, daughter of Tano’s sister Kiana and husband Jason, the latter a two-sport athlete at UH.
“She’ll be here in the shop, helping out and signing autographs,” Tano said. “We’ll be doing a promotional red-white-and-blue drink in conjunction with the Olympics.”
Tano has the first Bee & Tea shop in Hawaii and hopes to open others around Oahu.
“I have no background in business,” she said. “But I got so much support from the franchise owner. Getting in early had benefits.
“Being able to open my own shop in my hometown of Kailua has always been a dream of mine.”