Perfection to a tea
Almost a decade ago, business hopefuls Kate and Geoffrey Cashman viewed a “long, dark and narrow” premises on MacCurtain Street and said yes.
Today that premises is Tara’s Tea Room, a unique and delightfully delicate little slice of heaven tucked away in the city’s Victorian Quarter.
Since opening in December 2013, the tea room has been a mainstay on a street that has gone through some big changes, a success story Kate says has a lot to do with the all-important “personal touch”.
“It's kind of like sitting in your granny's kitchen having a cup of tea and a scone,” says Kate who does most of the baking.
“I think it's the style of the tea room. People are comfortable coming in on their own. You're more than welcome to come in, sit in the tea room, pick a book off the bookshelves, sit there and have your lunch and a cup of tea. I think it's more relaxed, homely space.”
The tea room’s fantastic regular customers, plus its appeal to all generations and tastes, are two more key reasons for the business’ longevity says Kate.
“To make it work we have to appeal to as broad a customer base as possible. We have fantastic regular customers. We will have regulars from Monday to Friday, and then we have a different bunch of regulars at the weekend.
“Yes of course, it’s all pastel pinks and the dainty china cups and lace curtains, but if you came in at 9.30am today, it was all builders. We had a group of 7 Dutch bikers too, they came in and had their 7 bike helmets all lined up.”
Kate and Geoffrey have seen many businesses open on MacCurtain Street over the last decade and, rather than see it as added competition, they feel that anything that brings more people up to the street is “good business”.
Kate said: “Since we've opened, I'd say 11 or 12 food businesses have opened on the street, and that's fantastic. The first two years we were open, MacCurtain Street was very, very different. Now you could have a whole weekend in Cork city and stay on MacCurtain Street and never miss anything. You have breakfast, lunch and dinner, retail and entertainment all on one street. All the businesses feed off each other and support each other.”
Joy in the Park
In the first outing of its kind for the business, Tara’ Tea Room will be taking part in the inaugural Joy in the Park mental health event in Fitzgerald’s Park on Sunday 17 July.
The event promises a fun-filled family afternoon with food and live music, whilst also raising awareness around mental health and well-being.
As part of the event, Tara’s Tea Room will present the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Tent where visitors can enjoy some afternoon tea while listening to live music from the likes of John Spillane and The Lost Gecko.
With a huge crowd expected on the day, Kate says it’s important to “always, always over estimate” how much tea will be consumed.
She said: “It will be the same as our afternoon tea we do in the tea room - a selection of sandwiches, mini scones, and a selection of cakes served with tea, with a little Mad Hatter twist and a few quirky surprises here and there.
“We've never been involved in something like this before so when we were first approached we were a little bit overwhelmed, but you never realise what you're capable of unless you actually push yourself to the next level. We are 9 years in and if you're not growing or challenging yourself with new experiences, then what's the point?”