So You Want to Open A British Tearoom in the U.S.

We hear it all the time. Avid afternoon tea goers often secretly dream that one day they will have a tearoom of their own. However, when we’ve interviewed tearoom owners over the years, they often remind us that while there is much beauty in this work, it is still work, in the challenging restaurant industry. It can be overwhelming just imagining how to make this dream a reality, and a successful one at that.

Shelly's Tea Rooms in Massachusetts is franchising

That’s why we’re excited to share that you don’t have to go it alone, trying to develop a profitable business model for your dream tearoom. After running tearooms at home in England for 15 years, Michelle (Shelly) and Sean Sinclair moved to Massachusetts two years ago, where they opened Shelly’s Tea Rooms in Plymouth. And now they are ready to franchise!

In ten years of Destination Tea research, this is a first for the United States: a tearoom franchise founded by British expats.

“This Is How It Is Done in England”

Sean and Shelly Sinclair of British tearoom Shelly's Tea Rooms

If you’re looking to create an authentic British afternoon tea experience, go to the source! In their first year in business, Shelly’s Tea Rooms won “Most Authentic English Tearoom in Massachusetts,” and it’s not surprising when you understand how they run their business. Ever since they opened their first tearoom in England,

“Everything we sell we prepare from raw ingredients on the premises. Right down to our clotted cream. There are no packaged mixes here. All of this attention to detail, from the quality of the cutlery and napkins to ensuring our teapots do not drip when poured, was thought of to make sure the customer receives the very best experience.”

Sean Sinclair
teacup at Shelly's Tea Rooms in Massachusetts

Setting You Up for Success

Calling on Shelly’s education in catering services and Sean’s experience running large businesses, the Sinclairs designed their tearoom operations to “deliver the best service, food and authenticity.” Now, would-be tearoom owners can take advantage of their documented and proven system, to launch your own successful British tearoom.

Sean on the throne at Shelly's Tea Rooms

In addition to extensive training, franchisees will have the Sinclairs’ full support in establishing and running a truly authentic British tearoom. They will work with you to craft your floor plan and guide decor choices, provide all the Shelly’s Tea Room recipes, and put you in touch with their vendors to source quality teas, ingredients, restaurant supplies and gift shop inventory. The Sinclairs have taken all the guesswork out of this process for their franchisees, already having tweaked the recipes they brought from England to work with local ingredients (for example, granulated sugar is finer in the United States).

tea tables in Shelly's Tea Rooms in Massachusetts, they are franchising

Shelly’s Tea Rooms’ popular offerings include:

Cream Tea, $19.95: Two scones baked fresh that morning, served with house clotted cream and strawberry preserves along with a pot of loose leaf tea of your choosing.

cream tea at Shelly's Tea Rooms with homemade scones

The Windsor, $35.95: Begin with a glass of chilled hibiscus iced tea or hot mulled wine depending on the time of year, as a selection of crustless finger sandwiches with seasonal fillings come to the table. Next, one fruit (raisin) scone and one classic scone, baked fresh that morning are served with house clotted cream and strawberry preserves. Finally, an assortment of sumptuous petite cakes and desserts are served, all with a pot of loose leaf tea of your choosing.

afternoon tea at Shelly's Tea Rooms, they are franchising

The Prince & Princess (under 10 years old), $15.95: A selection of two crustless finger sandwiches followed by one classic or fruit (raisin) scone baked fresh that morning are served with house clotted cream and strawberry preserves, and finally a sumptuous petite cake along with a drink of your choosing.

Take and Bake Scones, 6 for $16.95 (gluten-free/vegan $19.95): Shelly’s Tea Rooms’ secret scone dough is cut out into ready-to-bake scones, frozen and packaged for pick-up. Whenever the need arises, simply remove a scone or several from your freezer and bake for 35 minutes. Take and Bake Scones come in packages of six in Classic, Raisin, Blueberry or Chocolate Chip.

take and bake scones at Shelly's Tea Rooms in Massachusetts, they are franchising

More than 100 Loose Leaf Teas: You can take home or shop online for quality loose leaf teas from green to black, from the traditional to the flavoured. Browse Shelly’s Tea Rooms’ “Remedy” and “Quirky” teas, as well as popular blends for every season and a decaffeinated selection.

loose leaf teas in Shelly's Tea Rooms in Massachusetts

Take the First Step to Becoming A Tearoom Owner

Ready to join the Shelly’s family? Or have questions? To express your interest and introduce yourself, please visit:

English telephone box outside Shelly's Tea Rooms in Plymouth, Massachusetts

[Note: This is a sponsored blog post.]

Tea Voyageuse, discovering the world of afternoon tea, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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