Monday, March 10, 2008

An armchair visit to a "new" tea room

Twice in recent weeks I've come across the unexpected news of a beloved tea room's closing. First, I learned the Magnolia and Ivy Tea Room in Sandestin, Fla., where I enjoyed a pleasant "Beach Tea" last summer, has closed. Then today I got an e-mail informing me that Vintage Tea in Alpharetta, Ga. has closed. I was just there in the fall! And a tea room I read about a few years ago, the L.S. Ayres Tea Room in Indianapolis, Ind., is no longer operating as part of the Ayres department store, but thanks to the Indiana State Museum, plenty of the tea room's memories are preserved in the wonderful book "L.S. Ayres Tea Room Recipes & Recollections."

I ordered a copy of the book, now in its sixth printing, from the museum's online gift shop ( and have very much enjoyed reading about the L.S. Ayres store and its legendary tea room. The department store building was constructed in 1905, according to the book, and the fifth floor tea room was so successful it had to be enlarged. It opened in its new eighth floor location in 1929. Although the store closed in 1992, the Indiana State Museum -- in what I think was a rather brilliant move -- has recreated the tea room at the museum. If I'm ever in the area, you can bet I'll want to go experience how the Indiana "ladies who lunch" crowd once dined. (Plus, Steph of the stephcupoftea blog has said she'll join me if I'm ever in the neighborhood, since she lives not too far away. That alone would be a treat!)

This book is packed with recipes and adorable vintage photos, and there are also lots of entertaining tidbits about tea room life. Even the section dividers depict tea room memorabilia, such as silver serving pieces bearing the Ayres "A" symbol. I'm always sorry to see a tea room close, but how nice to see that this historic tea room lives on. If you're a fan of either old department stores or old tea rooms, I highly recommend this book!


  1. What a shame that Magnolia and Ivy Tea Room has closed. I enjoyed a special tea experience there the day before a mandatory hurricane evacuation. I sat by the fire serenely sipping my tea while outside the shops were busy boarding up their windows. I'm so glad that I at least had that one afternoon tea with them.

    I will have to look for the L.S. Ayres Tea Room book. It sounds very interesting with the mix of history and recipes.

  2. Sad to hear that Vintage Tea has closed in Alpharetta, GA. Mittie's Tea Room in Alpharetta is also very good. My grandmother built the house next door to Mittie's back in the '40's; it has been home to a victorian florist but is currently being remodeled as a dessert cafe'. The L.S. Ayres Tea Room book will be the next addition to my collection.

  3. Do you know if Magnolia and Ivy will reopen in Georgia (their original location), or are they out of the tea business entirely? I have been to their Destin location numerous times and I already miss them!

    Also, are they still doing mail orders?

  4. I am just sick to learn of Magnolia and Ivy closing. We are heading to Sandestin in a few days and we were very much looking forward to going back to the Tea Room. Does anyone know why they closed and if they will reopen in another location?

  5. I just visited the tea room this weekend and would LOVE to join you there some day!

  6. I was googling some new scone recipes and I came upon these blogs.

    I actually worked at Magnolia & Ivy in Sandestin for almost a year. Mrs. Terri (the owner) told me that they needed a break and wanted to move back up to Georgia..

    I had not realized that her store in Georgia had also closed.

    I really do miss working there and I'm glad to hear that all of you loved it so much!

    It was truly a great experience to be working with such wonderful people and serving such interesting ladies.


  7. I used to cook for Magnolia and Ivy in Destin, as well as other Tearooms! It is a very stressful job requiring a lot of hard work without much of a profit, except for the gift section! So I think that is one reason tearooms are closing. People are also busier it seems so not as many have time to slow down for the tea experience. I cook privately now for individuals but do miss the excitement of the tearooms!


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