A duo of Taiwanese tea and dessert chains will soon vie for supremacy in downtown Montreal, with new imports Meet Fresh and the Alley planning to open right near Concordia University.
The two chains will open within about a block of each other — the Alley on Guy Street at Ste-Catherine, and Meet Fresh just west on the corner of Ste-Catherine and St-Mathieu.
The Alley is a relatively young chain, founded in Taiwan in 2015 and focusing strictly on (mostly sweet) teas. In just four years it has quickly spread to Japan, China, the U.S., and Australia, and already numbers over 300 locations. It offers an array of fruit teas and bubble teas (also known as boba). It seems the chain is trying to cultivate a wholesome image for itself, noting prominently that it makes its own brown sugar cane syrup in place of other artificial syrups — the teahouse also hand-makes its own tapioca balls for use in its teas. Throw in a logo befitting of any third-wave coffee shop in town, and it’s clear the Alley is going for a sophisticated take on sweet tea.
The Alley already has a number of locations around the Greater Toronto Area, and also has expansions to Alberta and Vancouver in the works.
As for Meet Fresh, that chain is more of a hybrid, focusing on both desserts and tea. Beyond a variety of milky and fruity drinks, it’ll serve a variety of popular Taiwanese desserts spanning from purple rice pudding to taro balls, shaved ice topped with red beans, and waffles.
Founded in 2007 in central Taiwan, Meet Fresh has also been rapidly expanding and franchising around the world in the last few years. It has just three locations within Canada, all in Ontario — Montreal is its first expansion outside that province.