When best friends Janelle Calasan, Odelia Chiu and Susie Santos get together, it's over a cup of tea. For more than 15 years, the busy young mothers meet on Sundays to catch up and share stories.
Last Sunday, the News caught up with the three as they were sipping tea from delicate white teacups, and savouring some delicious petite sweets at Steveston's brand new tearoom, Adorabelle Tea Room & Gift Shop.
"One of Cathy's (owner Cathy Hayes), really good friends, who is my former teaching partner, tweeted a post about the opening of Adorabelle and we decided to check it out," said Chiu, who lives in Port Moody and was there with her seven-month-old daughter Maelle.
Housed in the Old Courthouse on 3rd Avenue, Hayes and her husband Chris opened Adorabelle a little over a week ago.
"I was inspired by a New York blog I read about this woman's daughter's tea party," said Hayes. "So, Chris and I put a business plan together and waited for the right venue to come along."
In the summer, the local entrepreneurial couple, who also own an online company, found out that the Old Courthouse was available and quickly signed on the dotted line.
They spent more than four months renovating the interior. The décor is a mix of French country white furnishings with cotton candy pink walls, dishes, napkins and teapots.
"Chris remembers his mom's tradition of getting dressed up and going for tea," said Hayes, who has a six-month old daughter and a two-year-old son.
Keeping it local, Hayes gets her looseleaf imported teas from Steveston's Nikaido. However, all of the baked goods and tea sandwiches are made in-house.
At another table, Richmond's Tanya Porter and her daughters, 11-year-old Jessica and five-year-old Mackenzie, came all dressed up for their tea party. Mackenzie donned her princess dress, which she said, "I got from Disneyland."
"Both my daughters love tea parties and when I heard that Cathy had opened Adorabelle, I knew I had to bring my girls," said Porter, adding she and Cathy have known each other since they were 13. "It's a fun thing to do on a Sunday; like taking the tea party from the playroom to real life.
"We love to dress up and since we don't go to church on Sunday, why not tea?"
Jessica shyly added, "I love all the pink in here and the food is really good."
During the 1920s and 1930s, the Steveston Courthouse held court procedures of all kinds. Then, during World War II, the building was known as the Red Cross Hall, housing that organization for the duration of the war. It later became the Steveston Community Hall, providing a meeting place for a number of community groups.
When Hayes took it over, it was the warehouse and a conference room for the lawyers next door. If all goes well, Hayes plans to expand soon, possibly to do breakfast meetings and evening tea and dessert service.
"This summer I want to offer boxes to go for people who want to have a small, romantic picnic."
"We have just booked our first six-yearold birthday party for next weekend," added Hayes. "We hope this becomes a destination stop in Steveston."
The tearoom is open by reservation or to book private parties and special events, Wednesday through Sunday. For $23 a person (children $16) you get your choice of a pot of tea, (children are offered apple juice) five sweets, two fresh scones and four tea sandwiches. For more information, call 604-241-1947 or visit www.adorabelletearoom.
A TEAROOM HISTORY
- According to legend, the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong invented tea accidentally in 2737 B.C.
- However, U.K. born Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford, is credited with the invention of afternoon tea in 1840. It soon spread to other parts of English society.
- By 1864, a female manager of London's Aerated Bread Company is attributed with the inaugural commercial public tearoom.
- Tea is among the world's oldest and most revered beverages.
- It is today's most popular beverage in the world, next to water.