Squishies. Photo from Facebook.

If Squishies sounds like a funny name for a tea joint, you may need an introduction to bubble tea. The new shop in Lakeridge Center officially opens Monday and will feature the black tea concoction with fruit flavors and “squishy” tapioca balls, sometimes called “boba” or “pearls.”

Owner Frank Nuccio has lived in Lake Highlands for 15 years, but he grew up in Preston Hollow helping his family run Pizza by Marco. The small pizzeria at Preston and Royal was destroyed in the 2019 tornado.

Initially, Nuccio looked at Lakeridge as a possible new site for Pizza by Marco. That’s when his 16-year bubble tea habit – and the Squishies name – hit him.

“I’ve got a 10-year-old daughter, and I ran it by her,” recalls Nuccio. “She giggled when she heard it. That was a good sign.”

Squishies opened quietly last weekend, and they are offering free samples from 3-8 p.m. through Sunday while they continue setting up shop and training employees. They plan to offer teas, smoothies, slushies, juices and milkshakes, crafting their own sweetening syrups from fresh fruit and sugar without unpronounceable chemicals or preservatives.

“We’ll encourage people to try alternative milks like almond, soy and oat milk,” says Nuccio. “We’re trying to get a little healthier.”

“This neighborhood reminds me of Preston Hollow when I was growing up as a kid,” says Nuccio. “We rode our bikes to each other’s houses, then to the corner to places like Andy’s Custard across the street. With all these younger parents and young kids, it feels like a no-brainer to open here.”

Pizza by Marco will reopen in late September or early October at Lovers and Inwood, and Nuccio says he’ll use the lessons he learned there in his new Lake Highlands shop.

“Bubble tea puts a smile on my face, and it makes me happy as soon as I get that first squishy taste in my mouth. I want to make people happy the same way I did as a kid working in my family’s pizzeria – by serving good product.”

Squishies is at 9850 Walnut Hill Lane in the northeast corner of Lakeridge Center.