On Aug. 1, Friend’s Corner Tea and Snack Bar opened their doors at 6 Main St. to people in the Highland community offering refreshing Asian Culture.
Sheryll Petilos Rincon, before coming up with the idea for Friend’s Corner with family friend Clariza Sidamon, owned and operated the Verlise Boutique, located at 8 Main St. for the past seven years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Rincon had few visitors, and decided to open an Asian-Filipino grocery store. She moved her boutique to the back room, and patrons began coming to 8 Main St. for grocery needs. Rincon, however, had another plan.
“The [space] next door was available at the end of May and I asked Clariza [if she was interested],” Rincon said. “So we decided to open the Friend’s Corner since we have a lot of friends who always hangout on Main St. There are not a lot of great places to hangout in Highland so we decided to open a bubble tea shop as there aren’t many in the area, so that is how we came up with the idea.”
Friend’s Corner is open Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. They offer 22 different flavors of bubble tea including classic, honeydew, mango, watermelon and avocado in two sizes: 16 oz. for $4.99 or 22 oz. for $5.99. Other than bubble tea, smoothies and coffee slushies are also available, but Rincon is excited to introduce Halo-Halo, a Filipino shaved ice sundae.
“We want to bring an Asian touch to this area of Highland because it’s a very small town where everybody knows each other and it is not very diverse so we want to bring some different culture,” Rincon said.
Both Ricon and Sidamon know that it is difficult to start a business, but with the community’s support, the pair can be more comfortable. Regarding comfortability, the aesthetic of Friend’s Corner has a cozy and ‘homey’ ambiance, as described by Rincon. They will also offer free WiFi so patrons can work and relax while enjoying coffee, tea or cold drinks.
Rincon says that usually for a grand opening, she would have a priest come and give a short blessing, but because of the pandemic, her plans have shifted.
“We don’t limit people normally but [because of COVID-19] we will mainly just do takeout, because we’re only allowing four to six people inside,” she said. “For now we have to follow social distancing, but we have put some tables and chairs outside for [customers].”
In the future, both Rincon and Sidamon’s goal is to expand their business into a restaurant, where they can cook Asian cuisine and open different locations.
“When the pandemic is over there are fairs we can participate in and share our product with people,” Rincon said. “There is the Dutchess County Fair or the Ulster County Fair, so we are looking forward to that.”
For more information, go to their website.