Tea House: is it about the experience?


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Tea House: is it about the experience?

Postby Paigekinz » May 25th, '09, 21:02

I've been thinking a lot lately about starting my own tea house. I have no culinary experience and only some restaurant/events experience from working at a country club in college.

Here's my question for now-
I have a vision for the look and feel of the place but I get hung up on the menu & kitchen operations. I would love to keep it to Victorian Tea service only and specialize in the "experience" rather than expanding it to a full menu thus becoming a full restaurant. Possibly partnering with a local bakery & candy store for some items so that it's still fresh but no necessarily all on my shoulders. I would also focus a lot on small special events (showers, birthdays, club events and some other special occasions I had in mind tying into charities, etc.)

That being said, does anyone think it's odd to not offer a full food menu and keep it very limited? It would only be open for lunch & High Tea. Sometimes I think people like simple menus as long as they're good selections & smart choices. In this case it would the typical variety offering of a Victorian Tea 3-tiered tower and maybe a few other options, plus a nice variety of teas. I feel like it's such a unique experience that it would be OK to keep it different than a full menu offering like you would get at most restaurants but I could be completely wrong. Please let me know your thoughts. Your fresh perspective would be very helpful. Or if anyone has been to a place that is limited like this - let me know what you thought. Thank you!
Last edited by Paigekinz on May 27th, '09, 10:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby fencerdenoctum » May 25th, '09, 21:22

Keep the dream alive Paige! If you have the drive (and the capital) go for it!

If you aren't experienced in kitchen workings, you can always hire someone to over see that while you concentrate on the tea experience for folks.

There is ice cream/sandwich place in my town that turned into a full fledged restaurant by having sandwiches during the week and then on friday nights had a dinner special that was an entree, salad, and a dessert. So you could adapt that to just being open for lunch and having a special menu every now and again.

I would visit other shops in your area (if there are any) and see how they roll things.

Best of luck!

The Tea Sipping Swordsman,
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Postby tea buddha » Jun 3rd, '09, 16:23

Excellent post Paige.

I opened a teashop in April 2005. I wanted a rustic, old world feel and spent lots of money to create that. I spoke with lots of experienced teashop owners and was convinced that food was a necessary part of having a teashop. I also carried a lot of loose teas and herbs, as well as a large assortment of teapots and accessories. I was required to do a "change of use" to put in my kitchen which held up opening for 6 months. Over the next 3 years, the foodservice grew to a point where I was basically a restaurant that served tea. This is not what I had planned but that was the customers I attracted because the food was so good. My kitchen was small and only meant for preparing small amounts of food to pare with tea. I closed the store in Oct 2008 because I could not expand to meet the demand of the foodservice side. The collapsing economy didn't help either!! My point is, make sure you know who your customer is, what they want, and exactly what you are willing to provide them. I can expand greatly on this topic, but not on this forum. I would be willing to help answer your questions if you like and discuss your plans. I can be reached through my website at www.tigermtteaco.com Hope this helps.
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