Taiwanese Shop Owner Gets a Second Chance


The Cafe Oasis menu sits on the counter in front of the register.

Amina Switzer

The American dream doesn’t always work out perfectly on the first try. An Oklahoma City restaurant owner learned this the hard way; after immigrating to the United States, she took her lifelong love of poker too far and lost everything.

PeiDi Tao came to the U.S. from Taiwan at 20 years old after anxiously waiting ten years for a green card. She came to own a restaurant in Edmond called Tao Café, named after herself. When casinos opened near her, Tao began to take time off from her restaurant to gamble. She played poker well and won money, but turned around lost it on slot machines.

While she gambled, her staff was caught stealing and slacking off. Fed up with her staff’s attitude, she decided to sell the restaurant and began gambling full time.

“I just left. I didn’t say goodbye, nothing.” Tao said. “I sold that one, and I still kept going to casinos. But I tell myself, ‘The life like that is not right.’ I [looked] for information, somebody wanting to sell a bubble tea restaurant. Because I [made] bubble tea for over 15 years, so that’s the only thing I’m interested in. Restaurant and bubble tea.”

After losing her house and car and going nearly bankrupt, Tao found and bought her current restaurant, a bubble tea-specialty place called Café Oasis. She transformed the struggling business into a thriving one and, by dedicating time to her second-chance venture, recovered from a costly addiction. Customers like Shawna Linck, who has been loyal to the café for years, said that she is impressed with Tao’s management.

“I love the food. I love the location. There are some really nice people who work here now.” Linck said. “I do enjoy the new owners. [Before], it wasn’t as clean and spiffy. It’s fun now.”

Café Oasis serves classic Asian meat and noodle dishes, per its menu. It is also very popular for drinks and teas with the addition of tapioca, called “bubble tea.” Reviews on their Facebook page have averaged 4.6 stars out of five since Tao’s takeover. Her restaurant is located at 1135 NW 25th Street in Oklahoma City.