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Tea Room marks 25 years

Applecake Tea Room, a Farragut landmark, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with an in-house party Saturday, Nov. 15.

“I’m very superstitious about making a big deal out of everything. I’m just glad one year has rolled into the next, and it’s just that this one is the 25th,” Mary Henry, Tea Room owner, said.

“I’m still trying to get this right and still working on it.

“I guess the happiest thing is that my customers have been coming a long time … and they’re passing down the tradition. They had their parties here and now their daughters are having their parties here,” Henry said.

“The tradition is going on and that’s what we like,” she added.

The restaurant, which actually opened Nov. 1, 1983, will celebrate its anniversary Saturday, Nov. 15, with apple cake offered to customers all day.

“Hopefully a lot of our regulars will come in and know what we’re doing. There are a lot of loyal people that have been coming for a long, long time,” Henry said.

Henry opened the restaurant in 1983 while her children were in school.

“My kids were small and I was looking for something to do during the day, while they were in school,” she said.

“I just worked around all the kids’ schedules. At that time, it was just a small place and the schedule was perfect.

“Then, when they graduated high school … I got spoiled to those hours,” she added.

The restaurant was not always going to be a restaurant.

“It was going to be a little gift shop. Then I figured I could make chicken salad and sell it better than I could go to market and buy things that would sit on shelves for a long time,” she added.

Henry told stories of customers and employees whose lives she and the Tea Room have been part of.

“The stories I have that people will come back and tell me … that’s the biggest blessing I can have,” she said.

“There’s just been so many things … a lot of things have happened here,” she added.

One of Henry’s favorite stories is of a close friend who decided to meet her son, whom she had given up for adoption, at Applecake Tea Room.

“So I had them a little table and put some fresh flowers on it and everything.

“And then I saw this person drive up, and it was this boy who used to be my busser. And he walked in … and it was mother and son reunited.

“We’ve never got over that. We thought that was so terrific,” Henry said.

“We’ve just had so many things like that happen,” she added.

Some of the restaurant’s walls are plastered with wedding and engagement pictures, thank you notes, the Tea Room’s famous chicken salad recipe and newspaper articles.

The Tea Room, Henry said, remains a spot for celebrations.

“I know the economy’s bad and everyone’s worried about that, but girls are still getting married and they’re still having babies, so we do a lot of bridal showers and baby showers and retirement parties and rehearsal dinners,” Henry said.

“We stay busy doing that,” she added.

“My most asked question now is ‘When are you going to retire?’

“Well, you know, I’m kind of enjoying it more today than I ever have,” Henry said.

The Tea Room is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

For more information, call the restaurant at 865-966-7848.


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