USA Today recommends Laura’s Tea Room for Mother’s Day

Laura’s Tea Room’s proprietress, Carol Allen, standing, pampers her customers with fussy attention, delectable sweets and never-ending pots of tea. | Barbara Ball

RIDGEWAY – The May 7 issue of USA Today, on newsstands Monday, featured Carol Allen’s Laura’s Tea Room in Ridgeway as one of ten tea rooms around the country that it considers perfect settings for Mother’s Day celebrations. Tea rooms in Pasadena, CA; New York City; Tampa, Florida and Salt Lake City, were among those included in the article.

No sooner had the newspaper hit the streets on Monday, than customers and friends began calling and emailing Allen with the news. Allen said she was incredulous.

“You saw it where?” she asked repeatedly.

“I was shocked,’ she laughed. “But it’s been one thing after another ever since the story broke,” Allen said.

“A British couple called saying they were vacationing in Atlanta and would be leaving for Florida that afternoon. They told Allen they had seen the story in USA Today made reservations for High Tea the next day. They arrived about 1:30 p.m. and we had a wonderful visit,” Allen said. “And they enjoyed High Tea.”

“It’s been crazy ever since the story came out,” Allen said.

Allen and her now 96-year-old mother, known as Gramma, started the tea room in the spring of 2008 in the former Thomas Company Mercantile Store built in 1911 at the corner of Palmer and Church Streets in downtown Ridgeway.  Laura Thomas was the last member of the Thomas family to run the mercantile before it closed in the mid 1990’s.

“My mom, my daughter and I would visit tea rooms wherever we saw one,” Allen said.  “I had so many dishes in my house that I had to do something with them.  And I am certainly a tea drinker, so it all fell into place.

“I was playing around with a number of names for the tea room while we were working to turn the mercantile into a restaurant.  We wanted to maintain the ambiance of this beautiful building.  Locals would stop by frequently and make the same statement over and over again – that Laura Thomas would have been so happy to see it as a tea room.  I finally decided to call it Laura’s Tea Room.”

According to the article, Laura’s Tea Room offers customers a choice of over 150 tea cups, a large assortment of teas and as a colorful collection of hats in case a customer forgets to bring her own.

Allen gives credit for the tea room’s success in large part to her staff who she considers extended family. “My staff really cares about their customer’s experience and it shows in everything they do,” Allen said.

Laura’s Tea Room features high tea in an exquisite setting on the upper floor of the over 100-year-old building. Lunch is served in the downstairs Deli. A first floor gift shop offers eclectic choices related to dinning and many choices for tea. The gift shop has retained the original mercantile cabinetry, which is a walk back in time.

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