Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Birth of a Tea Room -- Part 3

Tea Shop in a Box!
 Since we had to vacate our old shop before we found the new one, we had to pack up the shop and stuff it in our garage and garden shed.  It's a jumbled nightmare!  But we've begun to dig out and started to create the basic structure at the new location.  Not sure every fixture will fit in the smaller space on Sylvania Ave., but it looks like most of the critical pieces will. 

The Tea Cottage is hung on the wall.  My new desk is all put together.  This weekend we moved most of the furniture, and are still tweaking to find the best fit.  But it's exciting to see the space starting to fill. TeaMan, Phil, takes a much needed tea break while we waited for the downpour outside to let up!  Thankfully we got everything inside before the rains came. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Birth of a Tearoom -- Part 2

It's slooooow going, but we are making progress!

After scraping the floor in preparation for the linoleum tiles, the support wall was installed for the tea bar counter top.  Then the opening in the wall to the back room had to be filled in.
 And the walls in the tea service were painted with a paint color named--I kid you not--Teatime! 


 And after that, the tea bar could be mounted in place.
I can almost see the bar stools and tea sippers now!

Then the tea prep counter and cupboards went in and the floor was able to be laid.  
The slat wall to hold those 1000+ bags of tea waiting to be bagged has gone up too! 
And later this week, my two best workmen in the world will put up the tea cottage which houses the tea tins for tea service. 
The visions that have been floating in my head are actually starting to take form, and slowly, slowly, we are making a tea room.  I keep reminding myself--it's the slow and steady turtle that won the race. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Birth of a Tea Room -- Part 1

So, where do I begin?

Here we go again.  Lease signed.  Sigh deeply.  Gather all the puzzle pieces.  Get set...Go!
Right away the utilities have to be put in my name.  Gas and electric--check.  The phone lines and internet will have to come later, when enough is done that I am there every day.  In the mean time, the shop number floats in cyberspace as a virtual number that rolls over to my cell phone.  It's pretty neat what they can do these days with technology.
Start drawing out the finished floor plan.  We'll need to close in the window to the back room, and build a support wall for the tea bar.  The carpet will have to come up in the tea bar service area.  My fantastic husband, Phil, dubbed The TeaMan, gets the horrible job of scraping the old glue off the floor in preparation for tile.  Trip to carpet warehouse to find tile...check.
Get exact measurements for countertop for the Tea Bar so that it can be ordered...check.  Measure this...squeeze that.  Holy crap!  My desk just won't fit anywhere!  I mean any which way you look at it.  OK, get on line and find a new desk and file drawers in the right dimensions.  Check. 

Think about health department regulations.  Walls in the service area will need to be painted in washable paint.  Ceiling tiles changed to washable tiles.  The rest of the carpet is serviceable but will need a good steam cleaning.   We'll need a counter to prepare tea at.  Sketch in...check.  Cabinets for storage under the counter would be nice.  Trip to Home Depot--yea! cabinets are on sale.  Buy two cabinets...check.
Thank heavens electrical is all right where we need it, and so is the basic plumbing.  But a call to the inspectors downtown tells me that we can't install the sinks and ice machine ourselves, and have to find a licensed plumber to do the job.  Call around for estimates...check. 
Order new business cards and postcards announcing our new location, plus a nice poster for the front window announcing that Elaine's Tea Shoppe is Coming Soon!...check.  Call the sign company.  Make sure they can install my lighted sign on the front of the building at least a couple of weeks before opening.  Have them make new lettering to go on the wall above the tea cottage...check. 
While my brother and husband continue to prepare the space, I think I'll take a breath here while I wait for estimates, tile and countertop to come in.  Whew!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Birth of a Tea Room - Prologue

I thought I would chronicle the move from our wonderful shop on Monroe St. to our new location on W. Sylvania Ave.  It's not quite as simple as moving from point A to point B. There's so much to be done in order to prepare the space.  I thought it might be interesting for others to see what all happens to bring a new shop into existence.
So, here's a shot of what our beautiful shop looked like right before we had to start tearing it down.  Within a matter of days, we went from this...
to this!!!
We sold all but about a dozen bags of tea (we usually have over 1000 bags on the shelves)!  It was cold, nasty and the end of February when we had to move.  And, since our planned new location fell through at the last minute, everything--merchandise, supplies, appliances, shelving and fixtures, sinks, tables and chairs, plants, signs, my desk, files and office equipment, over 150 teas in kilo sized bags, my extensive teapot collection, and everything else--had to be stored until we found a suitable new home.  Nightmare is the word that comes to mind!
But, we were determined to rise from the ashes again, and the search was on to find our new home.  The first place was quite nice--we met with the owner, agreed on all the details, and shook hands on the deal.  Later, he backed out, leaving us in a spot.  A hand shake used to mean something--so much for integrity. One perfect spot 4 doors down from where we were wouldn't rent because the building owner didn't want to put the money into it to replace the broken furnace.  I even offered to do that in lieu of rent the first year, but they just dragged their feet so we moved on.
One by one another dozen or more potential places fell through.  One was a medical suite broken up into lots of small rooms.  The owner thought he would "sit on it" until another medical business came along.  Another great location had the space broken up between main floor and downstairs, where the bathroom was.  Too many steps for my (and others') arthritic knees!  Others spaces were too large or too small or too expensive. 
And then, one day, my wonderful brother (a retired carpenter who has helped me immensely with each shop incarnation) and I checked out the W. Sylvania spot.  The square footage was listed as almost exactly what we had on Monroe St.  A beverage type business had just moved out, so the plumbing for all the required sinks and ice machine was already in place--a major plus.  Upon measuring it out, we found it was actually over 100 sq. ft. smaller!  But, with lots of floor plan revisions, we decided we could make it fit. 
And, so, it begins... 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We've found a new Tea Home!
We've finally found a new location to house the 4th incarnation of Elaine's Tea Shoppe.  We tried our best to stay close to the same area in town, and you will soon be able to visit us at:
3115 W. Sylvania Ave.
Toledo, OH 43613
just 3 blocks east of Secor Rd.
We're busy putting everything in place--building a new Tea Bar, adding flooring, painting, installing sinks, satisfying all the health department requirements, and basically prettying up the place!  We'll keep you posted on our progress.  Right now, we estimate that we will be able to re-open sometime in mid-June.