Michelle Nichols plans to open her tearoom in time for the holidays - and that is worth celebrating.
- by Lisa Monti
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It’s been more than a dozen years since Michelle Nichols opened Almost Home, her award-winning event catering business serving grown-up comfort food prepared in her commercial kitchen in Kiln. Now, Michelle is on the verge of introducing a new venture that has been a lifelong dream of hers, a tearoom where guests will be pampered as well as well fed.
The Gardenia Tea Room is in the works at 314 U.S. 90 Suite 104 in Waveland, located in the building between Goodwill and the old movie theater. Michelle is creating a cozy space in her first storefront where unlimited tea will be served along with proper scones and finger sandwiches, among other treats.
Guests can expect a tasty combination of English tradition and Gulf Coast flair, especially in some dazzling desserts. Look for the menu to include traditional lemon curd and clotted cream alongside with such crowd-pleasers as Michelle’s pecan praline bread pudding.
Michelle said she’s excited to see her idea take shape and is getting great feedback from the public.
“[Going to] a tea room is something I enjoy doing with family and friends. It’s a relaxing thing, and I love to be pampered.”
Once the Waveland store is open, you won’t have to travel into Louisiana for teatime, Michelle said. “It’s always been a dream for me to do this tearoom, and hopefully people will enjoy it.”
Her tearoom, which is set to open at the end of the year, will seat 32, and it will share the space with another new Nichols family business. Michelle’s daughter Sydney is opening a floral shop named Midnight Bloom House Floral Design. Michelle says the flower shop is a good fit for the relaxing tearoom setting.
And a couple of doors down is Southern Girl Cookies, which is another asset for the tearoom.
Because of the limited seating, reservations will be encouraged. “We’re a cozy, small space and tea is a process that’s not really something you rush through. We don’t want people to feel they are being rushed. We want them to be able to sit and enjoy themselves.”
Michelle is crafting a menu that reflects her experience feeding customers for years. It will feature a variety of black, white and green teas by Harney’s and Sons in traditional flavors, plus some specialties like chocolate chia and bourbon flavored. Ever the Southern host, Michelle will also serve iced sweet tea.
“It’s the South, so I’m not going to fight it. I want to make sure everyone is happy and that we’re presenting a real experience for them.” Vegetarian and gluten-free items will also be available.
The goal is to open The Gardenia Tea Room in late December and operate Thursday through Sunday 1-5 p.m. Tea service will cost $24.99 and $29.99, based on the number of items guests select. The tea room also will be available for private parties, showers and rehearsal dinners.
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