The Tea Shoppe, located in Morgantown, West Virginia, carries over 180 teas, teaware, accessories and giftware. The Tea Shoppe serves afternoon tea, gourmet sandwiches and paninis, fresh salads, quiche, scones and freshly baked sweets. The Tea Shoppe provides tranquility for anyone to relax, refresh and reflect with a great cup of tea!
Lisa Biafore, the owner of The Tea Shoppe, started her business as a ‘fun’ retirement option. Lisa continues to learn about the tea industry and has obtained certifications as a Tea Specialist, a Tea Professional and a Tea Blender.
Lisa was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. She talked with podcast host, Jim Matuga, about her thriving business and how it has grown these past seven years.
How did you get started in this business?
“There was a tea shop at the Seneca Center, they had one in Cumberland, Maryland and they tried to open up one here. After about a year, it was not working out for them due to some family matters, so they put the business up for sale. I happened to be walking by one day, and I thought, what a cool idea. I love to entertain and love to cook, so I thought this would be a fun retirement option. My husband and I talked it out, and the next thing I know, I own a tea shop. I said I would make this tea shop mine, and I am going to make it work. Here we are seven and a half years later,” said Lisa.
What is the thing you are most excited about for your business right now?
“Right now is a very trying time with the pandemic going on, we have been lucky and been able to stay open doing takeout orders. We are trying to figure out what else we can offer our customers right now during the pandemic. We have our afternoon tea to go, which has been very popular, and we are doing a lot more catering, takeout and curbside service,” stated Lisa.
How did winning The Taste of Morgantown Award in 2015 affect your business?
“In 2015, we participated in The Taste of Morgantown, and we were competing against higher end restaurants that had all of these fancy dishes. We submitted our afternoon tea service, and we won the overall award for that. I thought that was amazing. Any recognition suddenly adds value to your product and your business. We have always known that we have a good product, but now I have five or six chefs who also said that this is a good product, leading us to win the overall award. When planning it, we just decided that we have to do what we do best, and that was our afternoon tea special,” said Lisa.
What can new customers expect when they visit The Tea Shoppe?
“We are definitely not like any other restaurant in town. We have our own little niche. Tea is what we do. We carry over one hundred and eighty teas, the staff is very well versed in what the teas are and can make recommendations and all of our food is fresh. We are looking for our customers to have a pleasant experience sitting down with friends or family and having a cup of tea. We look to give them an experience as opposed to just a lunch,” said Lisa.
Lisa Biafore grew up in Cape May County, New Jersey, and moved to Morgantown with her husband, Michael, in 1996. She has a BS from Glassboro State (now Rowan University) and an MBA from Drexel University. Lisa spent over 30 years in the corporate world with her last position as a Sr. Program Manager for a consulting firm providing support to a large federal government agency.
Lisa and Michael have two daughters that have worked at The Tea Shoppe since they were both sixteen. Her daughter, Rachel, has a Culinary Degree from Pierpont Technical School and is a certified pastry chef as well as a BS from WVU in Entrepreneurship. Rachel is responsible for the Front of the House and Event Planning. Lisa’s other daughter, Regina, has a BS from WVU in Psychology and is the Kitchen Manager and is also responsible for all social media platforms. Both daughters are instrumental in the growth and running of the shop.
Biafore was a guest on the Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to the full podcast here.
PWV QUICK BITS | THE TEA SHOPPE
- RECOMMENDED BOOK: The E Myth: Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It by Michael Gerber.
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Communication
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “Find your niche, and separate yourself from other similar companies,” advised Lisa.