I’m eager to share with you, my readers, the five most important things to consider while starting your Tea Room.
Location, location location!
The location of your Tea Room, like any other company, is critical to its success. You have two choices:
- Get a place tucked away in town.
People grow thirsty after a long day of shopping, working, or studying. To ensure that thirsty would-be customers ring the bell above the door, you’ll need a large welcoming window and a beautiful facade.
- Get a place way out of town.
Make the journey the reward. It shouldn’t be a long walk, but it also shouldn’t be overtly obvious. It should preferably be located in a gorgeous natural setting. The walk/drive should take your breath away, whether from effort or that last bend that reveals the whole valley. Don’t sit in the suburbs unless customers are coming for another purpose, such as a camp-site or farm-park.
It’s all about the Tea baby!
One does not go to a Tea Room expecting to drink coffee. Nobody comes expecting Coca-Cola. One arrives for tea. This should be a catchphrase. Seriously, although it’s fantastic to have alternatives (especially cold beverages), a vast and diverse assortment of Tea should be accessible. Your commitment will astound the drinkers.
Another thing to consider regarding tea: Provide a straightforward, low-cost tea mix. If it isn’t a house mix, don’t call it that. It’s not a crime to serve Yorkshire tea or Tetleys if that’s what they’re going to receive. There’s nothing worse than getting excited because you’ve ordered a ‘Special Blend’ and just taking a sip to taste. PG Tips…
To scone or not to scone?
This is a hard one for me. I love a proper Cream Tea with big, warm, fresh scones, clotted cream, real butter and homemade strawberry jam. But that’s not the only way to do it.
Any sort of Cream Tea is recommended but not required – just don’t insult people with a shoddy loveless job. A selection of other light foodstuffs will complement (or replace) the Cream Tea nicely. Pointers here would be to make things on site (where possible) and to have a few on display.
Are you trying to be a restaurant?
It’s an important question to ask yourself. Would you be better at running a restaurant? Would you prefer to be running a restaurant?
The trouble with a few Tea Rooms today is that they’re really just restaurants pretending.
DO NOT OFFER MEALS! Diners are fully and wholly incompatible with Tea Drinkers and you will confuse your waiting staff. If you really must serve a full menu, do it at night. Have a Tea menu for the daytime and a Dinner menu for the evening. DO NOT GET CONFUSED!
Now then, my young padawan, with this one your judgment used must be. The rating system on the site is all about overall enjoyment to which the atmosphere is crucial. I can’t tell you how to create the perfect Tea drinking environment, but I can give these pointers:
- Don’t have live music. People are too polite to talk even though the musician is probably not good enough to warrant enraptured undivided attention.
- Don’t have too large a seating area. Tea drinkers are pack animals and need to be kept together. Too much space and you’ll lose the cosiness.
- Don’t pack people too closely. Conversely; Tea Drinkers like a little privacy. Don’t squash tables so close that they can play Chinese whispers.
- Put things on the walls, but not too much and never tat. Old posters and advertisements work well to create the correct ambience. Commemorative plates can work too, but be careful. Don’t go nuts with Tea paraphernalia – it looks plain tacky.There’s loads of other stuff about atmosphere too.
I hope you find my Top Tips useful when setting up your Tea Room.