Tea rooms cause quite a stir in Hyde

A NEW tea rooms which transports customers back to a vintage era is causing quite a stir in Hyde.

Lady Lavender tea rooms in Clarendon Square shopping centre whisks visitors back to a more gentile age when tea was made from leaves and poured into fine china cups.

Clare Booth, 42, owner of Lady Lavender is also brewing up another side to her new business by offering to take the whole afternoon tea experience out on the road with a mobile operation which could see her setting up anywhere from a customer’s home to a church hall.

Clare, who was born and raised in Hyde where she still lives with her husband Michael and two children, Alex, 10, and nine-year-old Sadie, was originally a legal secretary before briefly working as a prison officer at a private jail in Salford.

About a year ago, she decided to get into the catering business by opening a stall selling her own extensive range of cupcakes in the market hall in Hyde.

She then judged it was time to expand and took over a unit in Clarendon Square.

In the short time she has been open, the tea rooms have rapidly stirred themselves up a reputation for being the place customers want to go for their refreshments.

Clare said: “While I was selling my cupcakes in the market hall I was doing well enough but it had always been a dream of mine to have my own high-class tea rooms.

“It was my ambition to open a place like Claridge’s in London or Betty’s in Harrogate here in Hyde where people can go to enjoy a really stylish experience – but at much more affordable prices.

“Lady Lavender has six tables inside and one outside and we offer the full afternoon tea experience with our tea brewed the traditional way from leaves rather bags and served in vintage china crockery.

“We offer everything from breakfast to properly-presented afternoon teas. The teas come with lovely fancy cakes and cupcakes all of which I make myself on the premises.

“I also make cupcakes and celebration cakes to order and that side of things is going really well at the moment too.

“I’m getting lots of positive feedback from customers at Lady Lavender, so I’m sure I’ve done the right thing by opening my tea rooms.”

Malcolm Angus, Clarendon Square Manager, said: “We think Clare has definitely done the right thing by opening up at Clarendon Square and we are very pleased to welcome this unique business to the centre.

“After several hours of shopping with us, it is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the finer things in life and I know our customers are really enjoying the experience which Lady Lavender provides.”

Another novel side to Clare’s business in the mobile tea service she has just started offering.

She explained: “Basically, I can take the whole operation and set it up anywhere people want me to and that could be places like people’s homes if they are planning a special celebration, or in the foyer of a social club if they have got a charity event or something like that.

“I’ll even do open-air events. I can provide the mobile service with a British tea party theme, which means having things such as bunting and period music playing to create the perfect old-fashioned atmosphere.

“Another part of the mobile operation I am offering is what I am calling the Cupcake Usherettes where girls dressed in the 1940s-style costume of cinema usherettes take round a selection of cupcakes carried in a tray suspended from straps around their necks.

“It’s the way they used to serve ice creams and sweets in the golden days of British cinema and I believe the same idea would work very well with my home-made cupcakes. It is ideal for corporate events.

“I really don’t know where all my ideas come from. I think of one thing and then the other schemes just flow from there.”

Clare runs Lady Lavender on her own for most of the time with occasional help from husband Michael and her mum, Margaret Thompson. Even daughter Sadie lends a hand at weekends and loves getting involved.

But Clare reckons the business is now rapidly nearing the point where she is thinking of taking on extra staff.

“I’ll start with one other person and maybe employ others later if things really start to take off,” she added.

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