One Centreville cafe is offering something sweeter than just desserts: community.
On the last Sunday of June, July and August, the small tea shop transforms into a bustling community hub, where customers can purchase an array of handcrafted items from local vendors in a monthly market-style event. Offerings include, but are not limited to, apparel, jewelry, soaps and baked goods.
“Summer market is a place where people can come and meet and support local vendors,” co-owner Danny Bae said. “We do our best to only invite or accept vendors that are in the NOVA area and who are not these major businesses, so a lot of people who don’t have a platform, a store or anything like that…they need a place to be able to advertise and sell and get their name out there.”
Danny, who started Bôn Tea House with his wife Diana and brother in 2021, says the market has grown significantly from their initial launch on June 25 to their most recent market on Sunday, July 30, despite how new and limited-edition the series is.
“After the June market, a lot of vendors reached out to us saying, ‘Can we be a part of it? How do I be a part of this?'” Danny said. “So, I think there was a lot of anticipation for the July one, so that July one was actually the biggest one in terms of traffic flow.”
Danny hinted that the upcoming market on Sunday, Aug. 27 may be the last one for the foreseeable future. Though grateful for the success of the series, he noted that the colder weather brings more complications, so their next event will likely be a one-day holiday market in the late fall or early winter, rather than a recurring series.
“We’ve had several vendors where it was their first time ever selling something like in person, and they were all very surprised at the turnout and how well it went,” Danny said. “…We were very grateful and thankful that a lot of vendors showed up, and they did their best to showcase their merchandise. It was just a really good experience for us as the host and all the vendors as well.”
According to the Baes, the vendors appreciated the opportunity to sell their wares and meet other business owners in their position.
“I think it’s great that they’re able to…see that people do enjoy what they have to offer and gain that support through the community,” Diana said.
Building community is Bôn Tea House’s founding mission, the Baes say. When closed on Mondays, they usually let locals rent the space for private events, and they are rolling out new bonding events this month, like the game nights that will be held on Tuesday (Aug. 14) and Monday, Aug. 28.
“We really wanted to create that community aspect and have people come, whether they just grab ice cream and go, or whether they’re in there for a conversation, that they could really feel like this is a place that they could relax and enjoy and come back to,” Diana said. “…So, we’re always looking for ways where we could use our space and use our platform to share our passion and what we think the community might need or want.”
Bôn Tea House began out of the Baes’ living room before they transitioned to a small window in D.C., where they became “the first ones” to serve specialty matcha desserts, Diana says.
As they began to receive outpourings of support from the local community, the Baes knew they had something special and eventually sought an official storefront. Coming from a Korean background, the Baes settled on Centreville for its strong Korean community.
Along with tea, Bôn Tea House specializes in ice cream, with matcha as its best-seller. The cafe prides itself on using fresh, in-house ingredients and taking the “time and effort to really try and bring out the flavors,” Danny says.
Now, the Baes are focused on forming a tight-knit community in Centreville, though many of their loyal D.C. followers still yearn for them to return to the nation’s capital, Diana says.
“We’re just trying to be this local mom-and-pop shop where people can come and gather and have a nice meeting with their friends and family and just enjoy their tea,” Danny said. “We wanted to showcase the Asian American culture, whether it’s our styling through our merch or through the flavors of our ice cream and teas.”
Photo via Google Maps
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