Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tribute to Alberta Brannon - one of my HEROES

Local tea room owner, Alberta Brannon died last Tuesday. She was 87 years old. Alberta owned and operated Alberta's Tea Room for 30 years until closing it in 1998. Her son Larry Brannon said, "She never met a stranger. She didn't say no very much. People would come to the back door of the restaurant and she would give them a plate of food. I think that was why the business was successful, because of her charitable acts."

The former tea room was located in French Market Mall at NW 63rd St. and N. May Ave. which she began in 1969 with a partnership between Alberta and Lamoyne Kerr, ex-wife of Robert S. Kerr Jr. Before the tea room, Alberta Brannon already was an established cateress, having gotten into the business in the 1950s. She was was born August 2, 1920 in Clinton. She married James Brannon and the two opened a bakery in the late 1940s in Oklahoma City.

She worked with Lura McMurray, a prominent caterer in town and when Lura wanted to retire, Alberta went on with the catering. She had quite a reputation in Oklahoma City as a cateress, before she got into the tea room proper.

Yes, quite a reputation - on a weekend in the early 1960s when President John F. Kennedy visited the country estate of former U.S. Sen. Robert S. Kerr, D-Okla. in Poteau, Alberta and her son, Roy, were selected to cater the whole thing.

If "tea room" brings to mind a small cafe, well, "this ain't no sippin' tea room" to paraphrase a familiar advertisement. The restaurant occupied 9,000 square feet, and was popular with civic and social clubs and other groups. Its main dining room seated 120 people. There also was a formal dining room which could accommodate 150 people and was used for such events as club meetings and rehearsal dinners. A third dining room west of the main tea room provided a more private, intimate setting and could hold about 100 people.

In addition to the group luncheons, Alberta's was open to the public Monday through Saturday 11am to 4pm. It was open on two Sundays a year - Mother's Day and Easter.

The tearoom had its share of male patrons, but ladies were particularly fond of it. Diners might remember Alberta Brannon's homemade rolls, but also her chicken tetrazzini or hot apple pie with rum sauce.

Alberta was there almost every day her son said. "This was her life...she's was a very devout Christian woman who believed in just doing the right thing and loving people."

Her son and chef, Brannon knew where his bread was buttered and made no bones about it, "I don't care how talented you are...if the people don't support you , you're not going anywhere," he said.

I can think of no better tribute than 30 years as a successful tearoom owner, to raise 7 children and have your son say those kind words about you. When you look back on your life it won't be the big splashy events but the small behind the scenes things...the gestures of kindness that no one knew about that will matter the most.

Alberta Brannon is one of my heroes. I still remember going to the tearoom with my mom, the white starched tablecloths and the smell of her homemade rolls. I hope one day people will say the same about our vanilla muffins and maybe my three boys will want to work in the business alongside Eric and myself just like at Alberta's Tea Room. One son, Larry, oversaw the catering and planning of the parties. One son did most of the cooking and the food ordering. Another son, Roy, managed the dining room.

Alberta Brannon is survived by her sons James Brannon Jr., Roy Brannon, Marvin Brannon, Harold Brannon and Larry Brannon; daughters Darlene Reed and Shirley Reed.
1 Thessalonians 5:24 "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Talking Over Teacups Book Club

"Out To Canaan" our next book club selection by author Jan Karon

"Talking Over Teacups" book club ladies enjoying lunch and discussing books.

Owner Tammy Seibert leading discussion/Book Club Members

We had our quarterly spring book club meeting today and discussed the book "These High Green Hills" the third book in the Mitford series by Jan Karon. The ladies ordered from the lunch menu and could choose from three of our hot teas (Darjeeling, Hot Mama and Berry Berry) or iced regular or raspberry tea.
We discussed questions like
1. Do Jan's characters remind you of people you know? Have you ever lived next door to a Mitford character? Are you kin to any Mitford characters?
2. Faith in God is clearly a significant part of Father Tim's makeup. How would you describe his faith? What role does prayer play in Father Tim's faith?
3. The Seven Virtues are Faith, Hope, Charity, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice. Choose a character that exemplifies one of these virtues. For example, what virtue do you feel Uncle Billy exemplifies? What about Miss Sadie?
These ladies always make my heart feel good with their meaningful discussion. They like to chew on a good book and I appreciate their insights. It is like Mitford when we make our own communities wherever that might be even if its at the tearoom around the corner.
Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

'Complimentary Tasting Night

A Spot For Tea offers a complimentary tasting the last Thursday of the month (January-October only) for any person that has booked a special event with us or a wedding at Coles Garden and Walnut Creek Wedding Chapel . The tearoom does creative catering exclusively for these two wonderful chapels and gardens and we are so honored to be partnering with them. The tasting begins at 6pm at the tearoom and each group is allowed up to 4 people. Last night we had 16 groups that attended the tasting.

We want the time with us to be as productive as possible so it is important that you decide on which menu you would like to sample. A Spot For Tea offers 3 different catering menus: hors d'oeuvres, traditional dinner and Italian pasta station. During the tasting you are able to sample up to 2 of our menus. When you call the tearoom to make your reservation all you have to do is let us know which two you would like to try. There is a lot of activity going on at A Spot For Tea and this is just one of the many services that we offer to make your event one that you will always remember.

Ephesians 6:7 "Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mayor's Prayer Breakfast

State Representative Mike Thompson & Mayor Tardibono

Prayer Breakfast, staff at A Spot For Tea, Mayor Tardibono and myself

Mission Statement
It was an honor to host the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast this morning at A Spot For Tea. This is the second year Mayor Tardibono included us in her plans and we were extremely blessed to once again be a part of this meaningful event for our city. State Representative Mike Thompson spoke and gave an inspiring speech about having faith when you go through difficult times. His wife, Hayley Thompson, is a sweet customer and we enjoyed hosting their first son's baby shower here at the tearoom.
In this election year, A Spot For Tea is proud to support those who believe in the importance of prayer over our government and its leaders for wisdom for our future. It was said more than once that we should be grateful that we live in a country that allows the freedom of speech for all and the freedom to assemble and pray together.
Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."
I would also like to thank my wonderful staff that came in early, Ashlie Cravens, Autumn Yielding, Ann Simonton and Sherry Sloan they are pictured above smiling at the food table.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Childrens Center Gift

Many of you have asked about the Gingerbread Tea and the donations that we gave to The Children's Center. I wanted to report that in addition to the monetary donation, we were also able to collect over $500.00 in personal hygeine items that we delivered to the center in January.

Ashlie, Della, my sons Blake and Benjamin, and myself took a personal tour of the facility. The Children's Center provides medical care and therapy for inpatient and outpatient children. It was a very moving experience especially for my own kids. Benjamin recognized a classmate from his school that has been written about in the newspaper and heralded as a miracle kid. We got to visit him and it really touched all of us to hear his story.

Thank you everyone for helping put a smile on the face of a child.

Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Only On A Full Moon

I recently read a story about a man named Sid Simon.

"One of Sid's highest priorities is his health and fitness. At 77 years old, he still bikes on a regular basis, takes supplements, eats healthy foods, and - oh yes - he allows himself a bowl of ice cream on the one day a month when there's a full moon. On Sid's 75th birthday celebration over 100 of his family members, closest friends, and adoring former students came from all over the country to celebrate with him. Dessert was standard birthday cake and ice cream. Only one problem, though - there wasn't a full moon. To cajole him into giving himself permission on the once-in-a-lifetime special occasion, four people who knew of Sid's commitment dressed as moon goddesses and entered the room carrying a huge full moon made out of cardboard and aluminum foil, so there would be a virtual full moon for Sid. But even with loving persuasion, Sid stood firm on his commitment and declined the ice cream. Sid knew that a 100% commitment is actually easier to keep, and he was unwilling to undermine years of success for other people's approval. " The Success Principles - Jack Canfield

"There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results." - Ken Blanchard

At A Spot For Tea we are committed to excellence and a superior tea experience. When we first started out we got alot of questions about why we don't serve coffee. Some customers were not very happy with our decision but I stuck to my original intent. We have 50 selections of loose leaf tea and it has become one of our main goals to educate people about tea and health and convert coffee drinkers over to tea drinkers. There is a coffee house on almost every major intersection...we wanted to be unique and different. Besides you can't smell the bouquet of tea's aroma when it competes with coffee. We're a TEA ROOM not a coffee room.
Only on a full moon do we serve coffee and its only during special events in the evening. When the moon comes out in its full glory.
Proverbs 16:4 "Commit your works to the Lord. And your plans will be established."

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Decompress Time

The couple above are two of our good customers Rick and Dee Dee who occasionally come for afternoon tea upstairs. It is their time together for refinement and connection.

Decompress: to release from pressure

I was listening to someone say there are three ways to do this:

a) change of pace - doing something out of your ordinary routine

b) family/friend time - we use to say it was a shame not to know our neighbors now it can be said individuals do not connect with the people in their own house because of hectic schedules. Ask yourself the question who am I there for and who is there for me? Am I giving those people priority in my life?

c) down time - where you allow yourself to be free from performance or the burden of responsibility. Its called a FREE Day. A true free day is completely free of business meetings, business related phone calls, cell phone calls, emails or reading work related documents. You're not available to your staff, clients or students.

What I enjoy about Rick and DeeDee when they come for tea is that they enjoy spending time being in the moment and have introduced several friends to a more genteel way of living. When they travel they like to find new places to explore and have tea.

So try a change of pace today...find a new way to spend time with the people that you love...give yourself permission to have a little down time.

"There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread." - Mother Teresa

Matt 4:4 "But He answered and said, 'It is written, Man shall not live on bread alone..."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Red Hatter Quarterly Queen's Meeting

What fun Saturday turned out to be when 82 Red Hatter Regional Queen's showed up to party in the Queen's Room upstairs at A Spot For Tea. We saw so many familiar faces of Queens who have visited and brought their Red Hat groups to the tearoom. Charlene Smith, Queen Mother of the Red Hatitude Adjusters, booked the event with us; she is pictured above leading the group behind the podium.
We already received a sweet email thank you from Wynelle Record, "Thank you for a special day for our OK Red Hat ladies. We enjoyed ambiance, food and your staff. The day provided a special treat for many of our ladies which live out of town." Queen Wynelle is from the Pink Rubies group.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and you can tell by the pictures it was a sea of Red Hats and loads of fun! Thank you Red Hatters for the joy you bring wherever you go!
Proverbs 15:30 "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Carroll's Mad Hatter

"Every age has a certain spirit or mood or climate to it. Ours is busyness. We're all running like lemmings from sunup to way past sundown. What's with all the energy drinks? There must be dozens now. Rocketfuel. CrankYouUP. Not to mention the coffeehouses on every corner. Why do we need all this caffeine? And why do so many of us now need sleep aids to rest at night? Our grandparents didn't. We thought the age of technology would make life simpler, easier. It has us by the throat. We need to operate at the speed of computers. We are running around like ants do when you kick in their hill, like rats on a wheel, like Carroll's Mad Hatter. "

Walking With God - John Eldredge

I want a different life than the one he is describing. Take a moment...take a deep breath....spend a quiet moment with a cup of tea and let it settle down your soul.

Isaiah 55:1 "Come, all you who are thirsty."

God offers us free nourishment that feeds our soul. How do we get it? We come, seek, and call on Him. We slow down long enough to drink in all that He is offering.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Highlights from 5 year Anniversary Week

Festivities, balloons, flowers, cards and a whole lot of fun is how I will remember this past week at A Spot For Tea.

On Tuesday, April 1st, we gave away a Hot Tea Gift Basket which included 2 oz bag of Chocolate Strawberry Tea, 2 oz. bag of The Perfect Spot of Tea, Pink Tea for One, Empress Tea Strainer and Tea Scoop. The winner Jean McMinimy who just happens to be a regular customer and comes in with her husband Stewart pratically every week at least two or three times. It just seems appropriate that she would win the first gift basket. Retail Value: $37.95. Congratulations Jean! We gave away FREE TEA all day long and had the main dining room filled with pink balloons adding to the air of celebration.

On Wednesday, April 2nd, we gave away A Yummy Gift Basket which included a bottle of Mango Tea Concentrate, the BLT Cheeseball and Appetizer Mix, Creme Brulee Cheeseball & Dessert Mix, and Earl Grey Bon Bons. Retail Value: $29.96 The winner Vanda Camper is pictured with her 2 children and she is a wonderful customer who always has a happy smile on her beautiful face. Congratulations Vanda! We also gave away FREE Mini Trifles (Peaches & Cream, Chocolate Dream). Its fun to try something new for our customers!

On Thursday, April 3rd, we gave away A Logo Gift Basket which included a NEW logo Mug, a child size Logo T-shirt and and adult size logo T-shirt. Retail Value: $39.97. The winner Maria Wilson who is also pictured above is a customer who loves to frequent us for some rest from her busy job. Congratulations Maria! We introduced our new t-shirt and mug at 25% off. I think the employees all got a bigger kick than anyone...sporting our new t-shirts around the tearoom.

On Friday, April 4th, we gave A Cookbook Gift Basket which included Tea Time Scrumptious Cookbook (our own cookbook), The Tea House Times Tea Recipes (A Spot For Tea is spotlighted with a couple of recipes in this book) and My Own Recipes for Afternoon Tea. Retail Value: $29.97. The Winner Wintress Autry who has had many Queen's Teas with us. I asked her to wear a hat for the photo...she warmly agreed. Congratulations Wintress! (Don't you love her name?) We gave 15% off all Entrees. Wow...what a day that turned out to be! Very busy indeed.

On Saturday, April 5th, we gave away An Afternoon Tea Gift Basket which included Gift Certificate for 2 Full Afternoon Teas, A Spot For Tea Journal, and 2 oz. bag of Chocolate Strawberry Tea. Retail Value: $55.96. Congratulations to Cindy Turner. She lives out of town in Shattuck so she has not picked up her basket yet but I'm looking foward to meeting her.
Pictured above we also hosted our first Chocolate Tea in the Queen's Room where Alisha Johnson our pastry chef prepared some beautiful chocolate desserts. Way to go Alisha!
All in all it was a week that filled my heart to the brim with joy.
Luke 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Thank you to all the customers who made it so special for all of us!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

5 Year Anniversary

Five years ago today on April 1st (April Fools Day) we opened the full-service version of A Spot For Tea. Eric and I have learned many lessons since that first day. Most of all that we could never do this by ourselves. We would also like to thank our customers for their loyalty and support.
Eleven of our eighteen emplyees were here for this photo opportunity. I would like to say thank you for all the ways our staff has made A Spot For Tea a favorite place to visit for many of our customers. They each add so much to our lives and this business.
First row: Ashlie Cravens (manager), Pam Bahan (hostess), Tammy Seibert (owner)
Second row: Sherry Sloan (server), Charlotte Moore (server)
Third row: Michelle Reasoner (server), Ann Simonton (server) Tawny King (server) Della Snyder (server)
Fourth row: Andrew Roberts (dishwasher) Melinda Roberts (second chef) Autumn Caudillo (head chef) and Eric Seibert (owner)
Not pictured: Bianca King (server), Kristen Keyser (server) Maryerle Combs (hostess), Alisha Johnson (pastry chef) Cheyenne Santos (server) Lauren West (server).
God always has been faithful to bring in just the right person at the right time. It has only been with God orchestrating each detail that we have survived for 5 years in a business where most restaurants have a 90% percent failure rate in the first year.
Phillippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."