Why don't men visit American tea rooms? Well, some men do. For example, I've convinced the DH (dear hubby) to join me occasionally. But it's a rare thing. I think there are a few reasons.
- We haven't raised our children with the idea of tea-time being fun and desirable (or even existent). Tea time doesn't have to mean fussy clothes and clean faces. It can mean playing outside and having a picnic tea, or many other such variations.
- Tea rooms in the US, by and large, fall into two categories: "Victorian style" with lots of floral things and lace or "hotel style" in the parlor of a nice hotel. In London, my experience was that I found none of the Victorian style. The non-hotel tea rooms were well-appointed, comfortable and lovely, but they were not super-frilly and lacy. They were places both men and women felt comfortable patronizing.
Personally, I enjoy the frilly/lacy "Victorian" tea rooms, but I also think there is a whole market out there for men who may prefer something a little less girly.
I think "hotel style" teas have a head start at getting men to the tea table. Generally, hotel teas occur in an opulent setting, but the setting is more gender-neutral.
- Our American culture has spread the story of tea time as a fairy tale. Tea time can be a magical, fairy-tale experience, but it can also be very sexy, romantic, intimate, fun, playful, silly, goofy, [insert your own adjective].
I am hopeful that the trend of tea bars and other such retail outlets will expand our potential target market for the afternoon tea.
I am planning a tea trip to Chicago at the end of the month. I'm making plans to have tea at the Drake Hotel. Here is part of an e-mail I received from the Drake - I love it!
"Gentlemen take note: the tea room welcomes you . . . we have a loyal male following who enjoy our hearty dishes, quiet surroundings and soothing music!"
What are your thoughts on this business about men and tea rooms? What suggestions do you have? I'm looking forward to reading your ideas!