A FORMER childcare worker who took redundancy as part of the public sector cuts is opening an upmarket tearoom after deciding, "if life serves you lemons, why not make lemon drizzle cake?"
Alison Harnett spent two decades working with children with special needs for Durham County Council until being offered redundancy in 2011 and deciding to follow her heart and start her own business.
She is now set to open the Tealicious Tearoom in Durham at the end of the month after a long search to find the right property.
“For years I have dreamt of owning my own tearoom,” she said.
“In 2011, the year I turned 40, I was offered redundancy from Durham County Council and decided it was time for a change. I reasoned that if life serves you lemons, why not make lemon drizzle cake?
“I’ve searched for the right location over the past year. I had a few setbacks, being beaten to some properties by more well-established businesses.
“However, when I eventually found 88 Elvet Bridge, I realised it was the perfect place to start my new enterprise.”
The shop, which is in the former Robinson Estate Agents building in the heart of the city, will feature a tearoom on the ground floor, with added seating upstairs and the option of booking for afternoon tea.
Ms Harnett is aiming to provide something different to Durham’s tea drinkers by providing a ‘posh’ tea experience, served by staff in floral dresses with white aprons.
She said: “I’m offering 17 different blends of tea, all of which I’ve blended with the help of master tea blender Alex Probyn, to ensure that Tealicious teas are unique to us.
“As well as tea, there will, of course, be a selection of freshly baked cakes, made on the premises, along with the option to purchase freshly made sandwiches and soup. Afternoon tea will be served on traditional three-tiered cake stands.
“The emphasis will be very much be on a friendly, relaxed environment in which visitors can savour a delicious cup of tea, served in fine bone china, alongside freshly baked cakes.”
Customers will be able to buy blended teas to take home and she also plans to sell teas online once the shop is established.
She worked with City of Durham and Chester-le-Street Enterprise Agency and the Five Lamps enterprise charity in Thornaby to set up her venture.