Gong cha, the world’s premier bubble tea brand with over 2,100 locations across 23 countries, is pleased to announce the signing of two new master franchisees (MFs), awarding the territory rights for the Great Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho), as well as Central America. The two deals are projected to grow Gong cha’s presence in the Americas by more than 100 stores. 

Since 2014, Gong cha Americas has grown at a rapid pace, opening more than 400 locations throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The brand has opened more than 225 stores across 19 states and Washington D.C., and has already franchised 65% of available territory in the U.S. By 2026, Gong cha is projected to reach 1000 stores across the Americas. 

The master franchise rights for the Great Pacific Northwest have been awarded to Master Franchisee Ajay Keshap. With a degree in engineering, and background in high tech sales at Hewlett Packard, it was in the restaurant franchising space that Keshap found his calling. For the last 25 years, Keshap has owned a multi-brand U.S. franchise group, whose holdings include 24 Denny’s restaurants, making Keshap one of the top 10 largest franchisees within Denny’s system. He also owns 15 Papa John’s pizza restaurants, as well as the area development rights to Dave’s Hot Chicken in the state of Washington. 

Gong cha is also pleased to announce the signing of an MF partner for the Central America region—husband and wife team Justin Willingham and Monica Fonseca. They will begin by opening the first Gong cha locations in Honduras, and then expanding into Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala. Skilled entrepreneurs with years of franchise experience, Willingham and Fonseca are projected to open 1-2 locations in early 2024, with the goal of opening 50 stores across their territory over the next 10 years. 

“We’re proud to be partnering with Ajay, Justin and Monica to bring Gong cha to new markets across the Pacific Northwest and Central America,” says Geoff Henry, Gong cha’s President of the Americas. “With their experience and leadership in the franchise space, we know they will find great success introducing Gong cha’s premium product to a brand new audience.” 

Gong cha is seeking large area developers for the remaining available territories in the U.S. as well as master franchisee candidates in key growth markets in South America.

Fast Casual, Franchising, Growth, News, Gong cha