For more than 10 years, people from throughout the Twin Cities have enjoyed taking a break from the outside world while “taking tea” in the British tradition at Lady Elegant’s Tea Room and Gift Shoppe in St. Anthony Park’s Milton Square.
The Tea Room, which was opened by Michelle Sommerfield in 2004, came under new ownership this spring. Wubitu Ayana Sima and her husband, Admadu Simeso, bought Lady Elegant’s Tea Room and Gift Shoppe on April 30.
Sima and Simeso said the shop would continue to operate in the way its customers have come to expect: The Tea Room will open for tea on Wednesday through Saturday, scratch-made three- and four-course meals will still accompany Parlor Teas, an eclectic assortment of hats will be available to bare-headed guests, and the gift shop will offer tea accessories and more than 70 kinds of tea.
Many things will stay the same, but Sima and Simeso are looking forward to making small changes to the operation as well.
The couple had not intended to buy a tearoom, but were looking to open a coffee shop. “When we looked at this place, we said, ‘Oh this is perfect,’” Sima said.
Lady Elegant’s and the surrounding neighborhood reminded Sima and Simeso of their time in Old Town Geneva, Switzerland, where Sima worked for the United Nations and also learned to make croissants and other pastries from scratch. She plans to bring her passion and talent for baking to the Tea Room. The couple is also considering opening on Tuesdays and may eventually add an Ethiopian coffee ceremony to the agenda, a nod to their home country of Ethiopia.
After nearly two decades of world travel, Sima and Simeso are happy to be back in their “second home.” Sima came to Minnesota to attend Augsburg College in Minneapolis while Simeso did an internship in St. Paul, and then they traveled for work, returning to Minnesota in 2012.
“We love Minnesota,” said Sima. “We want people to know that we’re here to serve.”
The couple plans to host an open house at the Tea Room this summer.
Want to “take tea” at Lady Elegant’s in the British tradition? Be sure to make a reservation for your Parlor Tea by phone at 651-645-6676 before you go. Lady Elegant’s Tea Room, 2230 Carter Ave., is open Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The gift shop is open Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome for the gift shop; reservations must be made in advance for Parlor Teas.
Teresa Townsend is a freelance reporter and coffee roaster in St. Paul. She enjoys drinking black coffee and reading the newspaper.