SCORE: The English Tea Room, from dream to reality through mentoring
When Gidgette Moshier started to look beyond her teaching career, she and husband, Ken, envisioned a dream to open an English tea room. Gidgette, from an entrepreneurial family, and Ken understood the commitment, drive and long hours required to launch and sustain a business. What they didn’t know, however, were all the ins and outs involved in getting a food and liquor business off the ground.
The Moshiers’ love traveling, enjoy all kinds of tea and are enthralled with tea rooms. They began investigating this idea almost two years ago. They contacted owners of other tea rooms and it was while Gidgette was reviewing information on the Small Business Association website (SBA.gov) a popup appeared asking if she wanted to contact SCORE. “SCORE,” she thought. “What’s that?” She clicked, filled out the request for a mentor and then began the journey to turn their dream into a reality.
The Moshier’s were paired with Dick Milon. Dick, in addition to his volunteer work with SCORE, is still active as a hospitality consultant and conducts management skills workshops. Dick’s career has been in hotel management, restaurants and also with contract food service where he was employed in management by Aramark, an international company providing services in 21 different countries.
The Moshiers’ initial idea was to start out with about 1,000 square feet of space and serve only teas with a high tea service. Once they connected with Dick, he spent more than two hours with Gidgette in that first meeting. “He went through every aspect of running a food business,” explained Gidgette, “from costing out the food, to hiring employees, to what should be contained within the four walls. I went back and talked to my husband and explained that just having tea and high tea would not be a viable business.”
It then became critical to find the right location. They had looked at small Victorian houses and other quaint places. “But,” Gidgette stressed, “Dick kept saying, location, location, location.” Each time the Moshier’s thought they might have the right space, Gidgette would feel that something wasn’t quite right, so she would call Dick and discuss it.
The Moshiers participated in SCORE’s business Planning Workshop. This is a five week commitment held on Tuesday evenings at Yavapai College. This was, “Invaluable,” said Gidgette, “absolutely invaluable. I keep my book and refer back to my notes when situations come up. That was a major part; I had to go through those classes and that helped develop the ideas. Working though the mission statement, working through the vision, helped us expand our concept to include everyone, not just ladies.”
They kept looking and researching and looking some more. From that first concept of tiny and intimate, it is now an 2,100 sq. ft. area in the Old Firehouse Plaza where Pangaea Bakery used to be on the corner of Goodwin Street and North Granite. The restaurant is full service and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus high tea. There is also a bar with a weekday happy hour and an outdoor patio that, once completed, can accommodate up to 60 people for parties and events. Total seating is 138 people.
The English Garden Tea Room did a soft opening on July 13. They then worked all the kinks out of the operation and did not begin any advertising in the newspaper and on radio until mid-September. Ken Moshier is an engineer, so their combined skills, along with Dick’s expert mentoring, cover the gamut of running the business. When you visit you will also meet daughter, Kristen Yarema, so this is a true family venture.
Some of the special fare that the English Garden Tea Room offers is a traditional, hearty English breakfast. Lunch selections are a variety of salads and sandwiches and dinner provides such delightful dishes as Bangers and Mash and Shepard’s Pie, and, of course, there’s the high tea served at either 2 or 4 p.m. There are plans to expand the menu as well as their catering services as time goes on.
Through SCORE team mentoring, the English Garden Tea Room is working to provide appetizers for the Prescott Winery on Alarcon St. and the Winery supplies their local wines that are served at the tea room. Once the Moshier’s are comfortable with the function and flow of the restaurant they will begin looking for another Arizona city to open their next tea room. “We couldn’t have done it without Dick’s guidance,” said Gidgette, “and thanks to him, our grand opening is Oct. 9 and we are ready.”
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