Texas Iced-Tea Chain Starts Its Expansion in Lakeland

HTeaO exteriorHTeaO, a quick-serve iced tea franchise with a Texas flair, has opened a location at 3920 S. Florida Ave. that is both its first Florida location and the first franchise out of 80 being developed in five states. Grand opening was Friday.

The store offers 24 flavors of iced tea, both sweet and unsweet, made with real fruit and no artificial sweeteners, and General Manager Eddie Rosenbaum, a part owner, says, “The best part is it’s all healthy.”

HTeaO began in Amarillo, Texas. Its website lists six locations, with Lakeland being the only one outside Texas. The company has 80 locations in development in five states, according to a news release.

The Lakeland site is located just south of the Polk Parkway in a strip that opened last year. Neighbors include three other food-and-beverage chains: Mission BBQ, Jason’s Deli, and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. Maryland-based Mission is the only one that didn’t start in Texas.

Franchise owners David and Susan Sullivan of Plant City talked with LkldNow about how they got interested in the company:

Susan and David Sullivan
Susan and David Sullivan

What interested you in the HTeaO Franchise?

Susan: We visited the Midland store where our son lives and he said, “You’ve got to try this.” So we went in and tried the tea and while we were there for a long weekend we ended up going back every day for our favorite teas and started noticing the crowds.

David: The minute we walked in and noticed the smells and the flavors, we looked at each other and said why aren’t we doing this in Florida?

What kind of customers will you attract?

David: Predominately what you’ll see coming in is the Millennials in their 30s and 40s but you can see the store now is a very good mix from kids all the way to senior adults.

Which flavor would turn a coffee lover into a tea lover?

David: The Sweet Turbo Citrus is our alternative to coffee; we actually add caffeine to it. Because tea has a certain amino acid in it, it slows the absorption of caffeine down and you kind of get that good feeling with the caffeine longer with it.”

How is HTeaO iced tea unlike any other drink product?

David: (Non-sweetened teas are) just a healthy guilt-free pleasure that you can enjoy without all the calories.

HTeaO has a happy hour daily from 2-4 p.m. with ½ price cups of tea.  During the week they open at 7 a.m.

Photos by Sarah T. Smith

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