Thanks to a group of employees bonding over their love for Korean pop music group BTS, Ampersand Coffee recently hosted its second “cup sleeve” event featuring music, vendors and photo ops. 

Fans typically organize cup sleeve events at boba tea or coffee shops around the time of a K-pop group member’s birthday or the anniversary of a group’s debut. The business agrees to offer specialized drinks — or at least rename its original menu — in honor of the group. After customers purchase their drinks, they receive a fan-designed cup sleeve dedicated to the band members they are celebrating. 

On Saturday, March 26, Ampersand’s 3009 Bledsoe St. location transformed to celebrate rappers J-Hope and Suga, two BTS members who had birthdays in February and March. The shop’s first event in January also drew large numbers of fans, also known as ARMY, to the combination cafe and bar space in the West Seventh business district. 

Ampersand employees and friends Lindsey Robledo, Hannah Vu, Lani Smith, Lex Ongoco and Jamie Dominguez were the force behind the BTS-themed events. Throughout her two and a half years working for the company, Ongoco thought about hosting a cup sleeve event at Ampersand, especially as more K-pop groups perform at Dickies Arena.

Popular girl group TWICE visited Fort Worth in February, and male groups MONSTA X and Stray Kids are slated to perform here this summer. In November 2019, the members of SuperM were among the first musicians to host a show at Dickies. BTS performed its most recent concert in North Texas at the Fort Worth Convention Center in 2018. 

“We’re actually talking to one of our owners about possibly hosting an event for MONSTA X,” Robledo said. “Our owners are amazing. We’re so blessed, and they have so many connections. That’s honestly the whole reason we get to set all this up.” 

Cup sleeve events are a regular occurrence in Carrollton’s Koreatown district, but they are fairly rare in Fort Worth, Robledo said. The next step for Ampersand could be hosting a K-pop rave night for when the business turns into a club in the evening hours, Vu said. 

Both Vu and Robledo said they were drawn to BTS and the fandom community because of the group’s ability to address mental health issues and bring people together with their music. 

“Becoming friends with other ARMYs and having the same passionate love for them, it’s heartwarming,” Vu said. “We found them at the right time.”

Editor’s note: Reporter Cristian ArguetaSoto worked as a barista at Ampersand Coffee before his time at the Fort Worth Report. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter.

Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Her position is supported by a grant from the Marilyn Brachman Hoffman FoundationContact her by email or via Twitter.

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Cristian is a May 2021 graduate of Texas Christian University. At TCU, ArguetaSoto served as staff photographer at TCU360 and later as its visual editor, overseeing other photojournalists. A Fort Worth...

Haley Samsel is the environmental reporter for the Fort Worth Report. You can reach them at Her coverage is made possible by a grant from the Marilyn Brachman Hoffman...

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