Home and Living is happy to announce two visitors, Haley & Lauren Fox, co-owners of Alice’s Tea Cup, with a newly released cookbook of the same name, here today on Product and Profile. Haley is a New York University film school graduate, and worked in various film companies before moving back to New York. Lauren started her career as an actress and writer, and split her time between New York and LA before opening Alice’s Tea Cup with her sister.
This is the place that Kelly Ripa says, “…is a fantasyland for all your senses,” and that Conan O’Brien says, “One of the things I miss most about New York is taking my daughter to Alice’s Tea Cup and watching her beaming face as they sprinkle pixie dust in her hair and give her fairy wings. The sad thing is, my daughter’s forty-two.”
Q.: Haley & Lauren, welcome! What is Alice’s Tea Cup for Home and Living Readers who don’t know?
H. & L.: Alice’s Tea Cup is a restaurant and gift shop with three Manhattan locations that offers whimsical and delicious food centered around tea for people of all ages, all day long.
Q.: This is quite a departure for the Fox sisters, as far as what you did previously (or are you still working two jobs)? Can you elaborate?
H. & L.: Production is production and running a restaurant is not so dissimilar to producing movies, sometimes even similar to acting (Lauren is still a working actress and singer but Haley only dapples in or around the arts, now, coaching actors.) We use the creativity we put into our producing, developing and writing at Alice’s daily, in the promotions, the designs, even reflected in how we train our staff!
Q.: What is it about afternoon tea that inspires and how did you turn teatime “on its head”?
H. & L.: Afternoon tea is an event that needn’t be saved for showers or any celebration past a catch-up session with a friend or a special moment with your child. We firmly believe that afternoon tea really only means, to us, that tea is served and the food is presented on a 3-tiered stand, but what comes on that stand and what time of day or for what reason is personal and unique to each individual. We turn it “on its head” by serving large portions, usually tea-infused and unique to what people are used to, with fun music playing and a down-to-earth atmosphere for people of any background and age.
Q.: We are here to talk about the new book, what was your impetus for doing a book?
H. & L.: Customers asking for certain recipes! It was a long time planning… Mostly, people asked for the pumpkin scone recipe, the chicken salad, our dressing, curry chicken sandwich, French toast bread pudding and our chocolate cake. Those requests we got a lot!
Q.: How is the book organized?
H. & L.: It isn’t! There’s a little bit of everything in it, every meal with dishes ranging from traditional (we make our own peanut butter) to non-traditional (tea-soaked eggs in our egg salad sandwich, etc.) It centers around Ben Fink’s amazing photographs of the food and the locations, really reflecting what we do in our restaurants and not just what comes out of the kitchen! (And it reads just like we speak…lol)
“Afternoon tea is an event that needn’t be saved for showers”
Q.: Where did the recipes come from and how did you test them?
H. & L.: Some recipes come from our bakers over the years, some from our brainstorming and testing… All from the staff over the last 9 years, really, in one way or another. We test them at our meetings and give feedback, tweak…
Q.: Can you share a few tips on brewing tea?
H. & L.: General rules of thumb—200 degree water, at least 1 teaspoon of loose tea per cup of tea, 3 minutes brewing time on black teas, 2 minutes on green and whites, 7 minutes on anything decaf or herbal… But everyone makes it their own way! We all like things to be our own way… Lol.
Q.: What is the “Mad Hatter’s” look for table settings?
H. & L.: Anything goes! Lots of color, scarves as tablecloths or accents, flowers everywhere, candles, mixed matched cups and saucers and plates… Treats well displayed!
Q.: How are you able to juggle your time between the store, family, and writing?
H. & L.: We have an amazing staff, all led by Haley’s husband, Michael, who oversees everything and keeps up the consistency of each product and how each location runs… We can really rely on the staff to let us know when any little thing is out of whack, so we don’t need to hover or, honestly, be in their way! And our customers provide a ton of feedback, which is essential to keeping things moving properly. So we spend our time concentrating on the business side of things—communication, promotions, ads, signs, new items, etc.—during our own personal time when we schedule it. If that means from 10pm-2am, so be it!
Q.: In another vein, how difficult is it to stain fabrics with tea and what are the desired effects?
H. & L.: Not at all! The desired effect is like a sepia effect that you would get in a photograph, making it look faded and a bit old (in a good way!) You can keep staining to a certain point to get it more and more brown, darker… Kinda fun and really easy! Great for hiding stains or incorporating them in your linens!
Q.: Do you have a website? Is there also a blog?
H. & L.: http://www.alicesteacup.com. No for the blog, but it is in the works… Stay Tuned
Q.: Is there anything else you would like to tell Home and Living Readers?
H. & L.: Alice’s began franchising and hope to open up alllll over! So if anyone is interested in owning their own whimsical tea salon, let us know! It is a fun place to run! Also, if you don’t love spiciness, cut some of the ginger and cinnamon out of the pumpkin scone recipe—though the quantities are not a misprint, people keep telling us that they think it must be wrong. This is a personal preference, we guess. Also, use Libby’s pumpkin puree!!! A waterier brand won’t work as well, we learned after the fact, sadly…
Be sure to visit the lovely photographs from the book in the slideshow.