Boba Theory

Back in September, I went to a new milk tea/boba store in Irvine, CA with a friend. I had never heard of this place, but later I learned it was quite popular in Chino Hills and that the owners decided to open a new store in Irvine recently. My friend had warned me ahead of time that there would probably be a line when we got there. Despite her warnings, I was quite surprised to see a long line of people that started inside the store and stretched to the outside when I got to the store. I didn’t understand why this place was so popular. It seemed like any other milk tea place, but maybe this store used better ingredients in its drinks or offered something that you couldn’t order at other places.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a big connoisseur of milk tea. Sure, my drink was good, but it wasn’t earth-shattering or mind blowing. In fact, I’ll be as bold as to say that I thought my drink was average or on-par with drinks at other milk tea stores. With that being said, something bothered me about why the line was so long because it gave the appearance that this place very popular because there was always a line for a store that was, quite frankly, average.

It wasn’t until after we received our drinks and were sitting at a table outside the store that I proposed a theory to my friend about why the line was long. Although I’m sure the franchise is quite popular and has a strong following, I believe the long line was a direct result of a bottleneck in the ordering process. You see, as my friend and I moved closer and closer to the front of the line, I noticed that there was only one cashier taking orders; in fact, there was only one register, so only one person could take orders. The ordering process was arduous to say the least because the line moved at a snail’s place. As a result, the line continued to grow. We waited for 20+ minutes in line, while the drinks were ready within three to four minutes.

I’m not saying the owners of the store purposely built only one register in order to manufacturer a long line and create the illusion of popularity. What I am saying is that I believe with a high confidence level that the line would have moved much faster had there been more than one register for more than one person to take orders.

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