Like many restaurant owners, Sherri Davey wondered if her business would survive the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Davey owns Heavenly Special Teas Shop, Café and Tea Room. Until recently, the business had a home in the heart of Hillyard.
“We were trucking along, trying to survive,” she said. “We had a great customer base and got a couple PPE loans. Then in April, I found out my building had been sold. We had basically, six weeks to leave.”
At first, locating a suitable new location during a pandemic seemed impossible, but then her real estate agent found a site on North Division Street. The building formerly housed the One Bridge North Tavern and briefly, The Big Dog Bar and Grill.
Transforming a former dive bar into a tea shop isn’t a task for the faint of heart, but Davey saw potential. Though it doesn’t have the foot traffic of Hillyard, the location has ample parking and is approximately twice the size of her former space.
So, Davey and a legion of friends, family and faithful customers got busy.
“We found this spot in May and wanted to open in June, but there was so much work to be done,” she said. “The building had sat empty. Pigeons were living in here.”
Hours of cleaning, scrubbing and painting, along with the addition of two interior walls, new flooring, a new awning and window boxes outside transformed the dark, dreary space into a crisp, clean café, a charming shop and an elegant tea room.
The shop features everything you need to host your own tea party. Teapots, cups and saucers, tea towels and a large selection of loose leaf tea.
“We have 125 different blends,” said Davey. “The largest selection in Spokane.”
The bright and cheery café shines with freshly painted tables, chairs and a few booths, and features an expanded menu and hours. Breakfast is served all day.
“Everything is made in-house, from pies to pancake mix,” Davey said. “We serve things you won’t find elsewhere. Our French toast sandwich is popular, and my African Sweet Potato soup sells out. It’s vegan and gluten-free.”
Sparkling chandeliers hang in the tea room, where tables draped in lace cloths are topped with pink floral bouquets and set for tea.
Several teas from the King’s High Tea to the Duchess Dessert Tea are available by reservation.
Sweets are essential to High Tea, and Davey recently hired a baker, who follows her recipes exactly.
Sour Cream Lemon pie is still a favorite, as are scones made with Davey’s recipe.
“They’re moist and tender, not dry. Raspberry White Chocolate is popular,” she said.
So is her chocolate cake.
“It’s made from scratch and so moist you want to eat it with a spoon.”
Davey hopes to resume her themed teas next month.
“I’m planning an ‘80s-themed tea for October,” she said.
That’s the 1980s, not 1880s. Attendees are encouraged to come decked out in vintage garb. Think shoulder pads, leg warmers and really big hair.
Davey said the business’s Aug. 7 grand opening wouldn’t have been possible without a contingent of volunteers. The renovation costs quickly added up. She had no money left for labor, and a lot of labor left to do.
When one of her regular customers called to ask how she was doing, Davey was candid.
“I said, honestly, I’m crying,” she recalled. “He said, ‘Don’t worry. God’s got it,’ and he asked for a list of what needed to be done. Then he showed up with a crew, and they did my whole floor.”
She named several items on the new menu after those who donated their time and talent.
“It’s a way to honor them,” she said.
Relocating Heavenly Special Teas to a new building and area in the middle of a pandemic often seemed daunting.
“There were times I wondered why I didn’t close down and work at Walmart,” Davey admitted. “But I love serving people, and cooking and baking. It’s my calling.”
Cindy Hval can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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