When I’m handing over my hard-earned cash for something – be it a cup of tea, a haircut, a garden shed, or anything else I might be tempted to puchase every now and then – I like to feel I’m getting excellent customer service.
My Tearoom of the Week this week has made the grade specifically because of the high level of customer service I’ve received there.
It’s true that it doesn’t have the largest menu, the most comfortable seating or the fanciest teacups I’ve ever seen, but none of that matters because what it lacks in other areas it more than makes up for in customer service. (I must add that there’s nothing wrong with the menu, the seating or indeed the teacups, they are all perfectly acceptable and shouldn’t cause you any consternation or distress.) (I just wanted to make that clear, in case it was worrying you.)
The tearoom itself is very small, with only 18 seats inside and some picnic tables outside. It’s a bit tricky to take photographs of a small tearoom when there are other diners sitting in your field of view, especially if you’re British (asking strangers if they mind being in your photograph – or, even worse, taking photos of them without asking – is terribly intrusive and potentially embarrassing, and not at all the done thing), so this is the only shot I have of the inside of the tearoom at the moment:
As you can perhaps make out through the gloom, the seating is of plain wooden, rather antique-looking, chairs. Such a choice of seating is very apt, when you learn that this tearoom is in fact located inside an antique shop:
The tearoom is located at the far end of this room, where you can just make out a doorway to the right of centre, with tiny people inside. To the right of that doorway is a blackboard with a few menu items chalked up to entice you in.
Rather nice, isn’t it? I hope that’s allayed any fears I may have induced in you over the the menu/seating/teacups business.
I probably shouldn’t admit this in print, since I was asked by the tearoom owner on my last visit to keep it under my hat, but it was such a bitterly cold day and the antique shop had such a wonderfully hot fire blazing, that he allowed me and my mum to take our tea sitting on his rather valuable antique chairs next to the fire in the shop, rather than in the tearoom (the sofa I was sitting on had a price tag of £1,480 and I’m relieved to say that I didn’t spill anything on it).
This is precisely the kind of customer service I’m on about. When we came into the shop to get to the tearoom, my mum and I were waylaid by the fire in the shop, and stood in front of it warming ourselves because – as I say – it was extremely cold outside. The tearoom owner saw us enjoying the heat and, rather than ushering us into his little tearoom, suggested we might like to sit near the fire in the shop and take tea there.
He took our order (tea for two, a tiny individual glazed apple pie and a piece of carrot cake) and when he appeared again with his trayful, he was faced with the problem of where to lay out our cups and plates. There was a large wooden chest quite near the fire that he decided would make a good coffee table, but at the time it was displaying a variety of items (including two very heavy granite curling stones). Between us, we took everything off it, and the chest was moved closer to the fire. Our order was then placed on the chest and we settled down on the expensive seating. Feeling so nicely looked after, I remarked to the owner that I felt very special getting this kind of treatement, to which he courteously replied ‘Well, you are special’.
Allowing us to enjoy the heat as well as take tea required quite a bit of faffing about and, for many tearoom staff, would have been a step too far in the pursuit of encouraging customers. Not so with this wonderful gentleman, for whom nothing was too much trouble if it made the punters feel welcome.
The tea was very good, as it had been on my previous visit, the carrot cake was moist and the apple pie, in particular, was delicious:
After our refreshments, and feeling very warm and cosy, we had a wander round the shop looking at the interesting pieces of antique furniture and collectibles. I particularly liked this little set of folding steps, circa 1900:
In addition to antiques, the shop stocks some locally crafted modern items, and I was rather taken with some unusual rabbits: