“This is a good time to open a tea room, as tea is dramatically increasing in popularity. It is often the well-publicized health benefits of tea that get them curious, but once they try it, they are finding they truly enjoy it.” -Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier, The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers
Here are seven secrets to making your tea house more successful…
Offer a strong lunch: This may be the biggest predictor of your success, and is more important than other factors you will consider. Having a full or robust lunch menu will bring in customers who are not there for the tea and they will come back for the food, if it’s good.
Have a cafe section: You may even want to designate a separate section for those who are just there for soup, sandwiches and salads. The decor won’t need to be as fancy and the seating will be different.
Women who come in just for the tea experience are likely to want linens and table skirts and delicate tea cups. But you can create a section that is much more casual for your lunch guests.
Afternoon tea by reservation: Because the finger sandwiches and fancy desserts may need to be prepared in advance, you will much less likely to have food go to waste if you make afternoon tea available every day but only by reservation.
Then you need to decide what that will mean to you and that depends on your budget. Will you serve afternoon tea with only one reservation or insist on a certain number of guests? In the beginning, you may need to limit it more, but eventually, may be popular enough that you can serve it every day, knowing there will be guests there to enjoy it.
Have a “special occasions” room: If possible, have a small room set aside for groups of people who want to reserve it for bridal teas, baby showers or children’s tea parties. These groups may be big enough to need a reservation but too small to reserve the main tea space.
If only 15 people are coming, and they want privacy, but you can normally seat 50, you can’t afford to shut down the main tea room for them. Having a room available so you don’t lose them either insures you won’t miss out on potential income.
Have a gift shop in your tea house: If at first, you cannot afford a whole room for a gift shop, designate a small space for selling tea and tea accessories so that people can purchase it there if they would like.
Separate entrances: If you know you will be likely to serve two entirely different clientele, such as hungry, traveling truckers and bored senior citizens, you might consider having one entrance for your café and another for your tea room.
Offer a variety of tea: Avoid limiting your menu to only a few teas or types of teas. Be sure to have as wide a variety as you can afford.
“For thousands of years, wise people have poured hot water over tea leaves and found pleasure in both the experience and the drink that is created.” -Theresa Cheung, Tea Bliss: Infuse Your Life with Health, Wisdom, and Contentment