You can now enjoy afternoon tea in Augusta knowing that the proceeds are going to a good cause.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, The Botanical Tea Room in Augusta, Missouri, has transitioned from a for-profit tourist destination to a non-profit historical society that will continue to function as a restaurant. Once co-owner and now board member (due to the nonprofit switch) Penelope Woodhouse says that the idea mainly came from a National Park Service article on the historical importance of tea rooms in the U.S. Since the tea room was more of a retirement passion project, rather than a source of income, Penelope and her husband, Dennis, decided to change the tea room's designation to that of a nonprofit and to use the restaurant as an experience to promote and preserve the legacy of American tea rooms.
"It is really to bring back the memories of the quaintness of days past," Woodhouse says.
Tea rooms were often destinations in rural areas that became popular with the rise of travel by car. They were also significant meeting places for women, particularly during the suffrage movement.
"It's a fascinating story," Woodhouse says.
The owners' backgrounds inspired the botanical twist to the distinctive afternoon tea service.
Those familiar with the tea room, or its adjoining yoga studio that has also become a nonprofit, won't see many changes when it opens back up, most likely in July. The nonprofit name is officially The Tea Room Society, however the Botanical Tea Room name will remain for the restaurant itself. The tea room will still offer mostly light menu options like salads and sandwiches using ingredients from the tea room's garden, and it will still serve its signature British-inspired afternoon tea. The tea room's sustainability efforts and goal to be zero-waste will also continue.
If you are hoping to make a trip to Augusta to get the tea room experience, you must have a reservation; the tea room does not take walk-ins. Woodhouse isn't sure what cause will be the beneficiary of funds raised from meals by public patrons just yet, but the goal is to keep those charitable funds here in Missouri. She says that the tea room will also be open to those who want to host fundraisers for their specific causes.
Botanical Tea Room 5350 Hackmann Road, Augusta, Missouri, 314.229.2496, botanicaltearoom.com