I’m itching to tell all of you, dearest readers, the 5 main pointers to consider when you start your Tea Room.
Location, location location!
The whereabouts of your Tea Room, like any business, is crucial to your success. You’ve two options:
- Get a place tucked away in town.
After a busy morning shopping/working/studying people get thirsty, mighty thirsty. You’ll need a big inviting window and a striking exterior to make sure those thirsty would-be patrons are gonna make that little bell above the door ring.
- Get a place way out of town.
Make getting there the reward. It shouldn’t be a trek, but nor should it be overly sign-posted. It should ideally be situated in an area of stunning natural beauty. The walk/drive should take your breath away – whether through exertion or that last turn that revealed the whole valley. Don’t sit in the suburbs unless patrons will be visiting for other reasons like a camp-site or farm-park.
It’s all about the Tea baby!
One does not visit a Tea Room expecting coffee. One does not come expecting coca-cola. One comes for Tea. This should be a mantra. Seriously, it’s great to stock alternatives (particularly cold drinks), but a rich and wide selection of Tea should be available. Dazzle the drinkers with your dedication.
Another point about Tea: Offer a simple, cheap, just Tea blend. Don’t call it a house-blend if it isn’t. It’s not a crime to put Yorkshire tea or Tetleys on the menu if that’s what they’re gonna get. There’s not a lot worse than getting excited because you’ve ordered a ‘Special Blend’ take a sip only 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.
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