Photography by Kathy Tran.

Squishies Bubble Tea has become a neighborhood staple, filling a boba-sized hole in Lake Highlands.

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Squishies boasts a massive selection of drinks with an anime theme throughout the shop. With colors that pop just as much as boba in the cup, Squishies has created a fun environment tailored to students and young adults.

“During COVID I was watching tons of anime and decided to open a boba store super close to my house,” says owner Frankie Nuccio. “What better theme than my favorite anime titles to decorate? It has resonated with so many customers.”

Nuccio says he’s a serial entrepreneur.

“I’ve always taken my hobbies and turned them into businesses. I did this with my first store when I was 19; it was a used video game store and hangout. I did the same with roller/ice hockey. I was playing both, so I decided to open a very successful store in the late ’90s.”

After over a year in business, Squishies enters its expansion phase: Nuccio plans to open a second location, this time combining with his family restaurant, Pizza Gianna.

“My dad had a bar downtown and added pizza in 1956,” Nuccio says. “He then opened a stand-alone pizzeria in 1962.”

With Nuccio at the helm, Pizza Gianna operated at Preston and Royal until 2019.

“There was a tornado that destroyed a lot of the neighborhood and shopping centers,” Nuccio says. “Some fiercely loyal customers talked me into reopening at Lovers and Inwood.”

Pizza Gianna has been open at the new location ever since. Recently, Nuccio decided to merge his two concepts.

“I’ll be converting it to a boba store that serves my family’s pizza,” he says. “I’ll have to repaint the inside and maybe even rebrand to have the freshest of starts.”

As the new store preps for opening, focus is not lost on the original Squishies in Lakeridge Village. The store is mostly staffed and frequented by Lake Highlands High School students.

One of those is senior Ethan Rommel, who has worked at Squishies since opening day.

“It’s been one of the best experiences I’ve had,” Rommel says.

“Being a small local business starting up out of nowhere, there are times where things get rocky. But Squishies has grown to be a family.”

Rommel credits his time at Squishies with helping him learn to work in a unique environment with the struggles and advantages that come with it.

“Leading a small business, it’s important to treat everyone, coworkers and customers, like a friend,” Rommel says.

Squishies Bubble Tea, 9850 Walnut Hill Lane, 972.807.2562