HOSPITALITY is not just a transactional business serving up food and drink, it can provide a focus for a busy and changing part of town, according to one Southborough trader who has entered the Best In Food and Drink category to prove the point.
As the location for weekly gatherings of ‘Chatty Cafés’ as well as Southborough SOS (Save Our Streets) meetings, The Earl Grey Tea Rooms are essential ‘to the story as well as being part of the scenery’, according to owner Roz Bambling.
“We’re in here from 9am to 4pm every day except Sunday, and it’s a place where people meet friends and family, and new people, especially if they’ve just moved here.
“There are quite a lot of people moving into the area, particularly older people, especially with the new developments. People often come here to meet, in groups,” she said.
“These are people who can be quite isolated, and quite often they come here to be part of things in Southborough.
“We are always getting new and old faces, and it keeps things moving on.”
All generations enjoy the roses-and-vintage-china haven of the tea room, said Roz.
“After school, parents and kids come in around 3.15pm. They’re coming in for treats, like milkshakes and cakes.”
Meanwhile, although the tea room hasn’t signed up to the Warm Rooms Scheme – a network of places for people to stay warm, get hot drinks and even charge their phones – it is nevertheless a hub.
“We do other things as well, but it’s part of our ethos to be here. For example, if someone from the local assisted living just wants to get out of the house, we give them a tea or coffee on the house.
“It’s not a formal thing,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Earl Grey Tea Rooms also occasionally provides ‘on the house’ tea or coffee to Southborough SOS litter-pickers, but do not go so far as risking its precious vintage china, said Roz.
“They get takeaway cups for that!”
Best in Food & Drink is just one category in the Times Business Awards. Entry forms are available at timesbusinessawards.co.uk and the deadline for entries is February 20.