Having A Spot Of Tea In Nuuanu

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - May 09, 2007
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As you can see by peeking in the window, it’s tea time for owner Michele Henry of Tea at 1024
As you can see by peeking in the window, it’s tea time for
owner Michele Henry of Tea at 1024

“A woman is like a bag of tea, you don’t know how strong she is until she gets into hot water.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

That’s one of a few quotes sprinkled throughout the menu of Tea at 1024. Arranged on the tablecloths are delicate porcelain cups and saucers, cloth napkins and sugar cubes.

Owner Michele Henry smiles graciously at a roomful of customers enjoying sandwiches and a spot of tea.

“Tea is a meal,” Henry says. “They’re going to be eating something. Tea isn’t just tea. It’s a time to rekindle relationships. We need to find time to sit down, and enjoy each other’s company, because everyone can come up with excuses of why they don’t have time.”

Tea service includes tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, jam, pastries and, of course, a choice of tea, with a la carte offerings of soups, salads, hot cocoa and iced tea.

Customers enjoying lunch in the window seat can watch the world pass by, and passers-by can get a glimpse of the customers. Feather boas and hats are available to wear.

Henry’s grandparents had a tailor shop on Liliha Street, and she decided to design clothes so she could stay home with her two children, Steffine and Jennifer, who are now 16 and 18 years old.

Henry, a graduate of Star of the Sea school, started off in design making diaper covers, clothes, and even had wholesale accounts. Her sewing repertoire included wedding dresses and hula halau costumes, as she also did the craft fair circuit.

“That clientele base gave me the courage to open up a shop,” says Henry, who opened her retail shop, Designs by Michele Henry, in 1996 in order to move her sewing business out of her home. “I asked myself first, if no one walks through that door for one year, will I be able to sustain myself?” She credits her good relationship with her landlord for her success.

The self-described conservative risk-taker wanted to have a tea room so that people could have tea and sandwiches while enjoying her designs. So in 1999, she started the tea room and shared rental space with two friends who each had their own businesses. As each of her friends moved on, she began to expand the tea room, and do less of the clothing designs.

Henry admits one of the challenges of running a business is staffing. With the help of two part-timers, Henry expands the vision of her tea room.

She’s started doing outside catering, and she also has tea baskets to go.

In the 675-square-foot space she can accommodate private parties for bridal showers, baby showers, wedding receptions and non-profit groups.

She’s also on committees with the Art District’s Merchants Association, formerly the Nuuanu Merchants Association.

“I wanted to create an environment where people can stop from a busy day, catch their breath, leave their problems at the door, and let us be the respite for the weary soul,” notes Henry.

Tea at 1024 is located at 1024 Nuuanu Ave. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 521-9596.

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Most Recent Comment(s):

A well written and highly deserved accolade for Michelle Henry!  I am proud to say I knew her when, way back when she was sewing those nappies for fun and profit, and for her own babies.  It is a great joy to know of her wonderful success as a genuine aloha entrepeneur.  As I sit in my North Carolina home of the past 10 years, I continue to wish her deep peace.

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