Tea with a little Zing
By Nicole Davis
February 2014 Issue 0090
February 2014 Issue 0090
The world is so fast-paced. Cheryl Domi aims to slow it down a little for her customers at Sassafras Tea Room by creating an atmosphere where people can come in, the world is out — and they can relax, have fun and make new memories.
“The goals wer to grow, to create a unique environment, a special place for them to come to feel like they’ve been somewhere without going out of town,” Domi says.
While Domi says she never planned on opening a restauratn, it is a “Godsend.” With a background in interior design, and after 12 years of running a windown draping business from her home, Domi decided to help a friend open some resturants. She ended up purchasing the location at 299 N. Madison Ave., Greenwood, from her friend. Her family stepping in to help, including her daughter Rachel, son Alex, step-son, parents and boyfriend. She currently has six employees in the family-run business. Sassafras Tea room is entering its fifth year in operation.
“Personally, I feel like this has made me a better person — with the people contact,” Domi says. “We have the regulars coming back and that’s what makes it worthwhile; the friends that I’ve made along the road.”
Sassafras Tea Room serves specialty teas and home-style sourthern cooking durin glunch hour and for special events in the evenings. Still utilizing her interios design skills, Domi decorated the entire home-like restaturant herself, including the upstairs.
I’m always picking up different dishes and teacups,” Domi says. “We have great ustomers that just show up at my doorstep with stuff, so I have dishes that belong to my customers and their relatives. I don’t like everything matchy-matchy. We do have fancy china we use on special events. I like it all to be different.”
Domi says everyone is welcome, and everyone seems to enjoy themselves, from young to old. She says the children have been a growing focus, as she’s seen little girls and boys coming in wearing their finest clothing to enjoy some tea out of the china cups. She says one little girl, age 5, has had three birthday parties at Sassafras Tea ROom, even though her parents have given her other options. To offer a different experience, Domi ssays she can teach the children how to properly behave while eating. She says they are thingking about beginning craft parties for them.
“We are reaching a younger audience,” Domi says. “They’re enjoing it and coming, asking mom and grandma to bring them. Especially when you get the kids, they to comine in and learn proper place settings. They come in their little dress-up clothes. They feel special. They want to come back. I think everyone in life wants to feel special.”
Last year, Sassafras Tea Room began catering weddings. Domi says they have done a lot of baby and bridal showers, and says she hopes to do more of those types of special events as the business contiues to grow, largely through word of mouth. She also offers special events of her own, through the holidays, including a Mother’s Day tea or tea with Mrs. Claus for Christmas.
“It’s neat because each day is different,” Domi says. “You can’t predict it. You have to be very flexible. I like that challenge. I couldn’t do a job where I sit still and everything is the same all the time. I’m a creative person. That’s paperwork is challenging for me.”
Domi says she is proud of the fact that they opened at a tough time in the economy and dug-in to their Greenwood location. Business has grown more and more each year, and she says she hopes to see that continue. With plans to consistently make the business better, by expanding the kitchen or catering more events, Domi says it’s still all about creating a nice atmosphere where every persona feels special when they leave.
“We’ve just going to keep doing what we’re doing; make the customer happy and wanting to come back,” Domi says.