Friday, June 14

Tuscon Tea Room Closes, but More Business Opportunities Open Up for Owner

Opening a small business is no easy feat, and no one knows that better than Tamara Read. Closing it, however, it also heart-breaking.

Read was the owner of the Chatilly Tea Room in Tuscon, AZ, for the past 13 years. But the quaint Victorian business will serve its final cup of tea on August 13. A boutique which is also part of the business will remain open until September 12.

Read, who opened the business at age 33, had worked in bakeries, for the Red Cross in Southern Arizona and at an assisted living facility before she opened her business.

Read’s vision for the business was to create a proper Victorian tea room, despite living among adobe houses in the Southwest desert.

But Read’s business flourished for years, and she was well prepared for business ownership even when she first began. Both of her parents were business owners, and she has taken classes in cake decorating and flower arrangement, which guided her tea room’s aesthetic.

Back in 2002, before her grand opening, she was hopeful despite some grim statistics. An Ohio State University study had revealed that 25% of locally owned restaurants don’t make it past their first year, yet Read succeeded for well over a decade.

For a small business grand opening, restaurateurs and business owners may need to use party rental equipment or other borrowed supplies if they don’t have everything on hand yet. Typically, these supplies are essentials for everything from weddings to sweet 16 celebrations, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $25,000 or more.

Larger businesses, however, might have more slightly more fanfare when they open to the public.

For instance, an American Girl store is opening in Scottsdale this August — the first in Arizona. Several of the high-end toy stores feature cafes and bistros for birthday celebrations and tea parties aimed at little girls, so it’s likely they’ll pull out all the stops to attract kids (and the parents who have enough money to pay $115 for a doll).

But despite the closing of the Chantilly Tea Room, this isn’t the end for Read. She still plans to stay in the tea business; in the meantime, she will also sell some of her rare teas on her website.

Yet closing the doors on the 3,000-square-foot building on N. Genematas Drive was a “hard decision,” but she’s looking to recharge before starting her new venture.

“It’s been 13 years working six days a week, with 12 to 15 hour days,” Read said. “I need to get off my feet for a bit and rethink it.”

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