Writer / Janelle Morrison
British-born Tina Jesson is ready to introduce the Arts & Design District to a proper tea experience and will open the doors to Tina’s Traditional Old English Kitchen at the end of September. She’s bringing her family and native British recipes from “across the pond” and right into the cups and onto the plates of her guests.
Tina and her husband of 23 years, David, moved from England to Indiana as a result of a job transfer with Rolls-Royce. “He was transferred to Indianapolis in 2008, so I figured I’d come with him,” Tina said jokingly. Her witty disposition and genuine nature is infectious and makes her very personable.
She began her enterprise in 2011 by baking and selling her English baked goods at various farmers’ markets throughout Indianapolis. “I wanted to see if people would like English baked goods and I did it because I have a passion for baking. It is also a way to kind of take me back home. There are a lot of baked goods, I wasn’t able to find here and so I decided to bake them myself and see if people would like them.” She spent the next six months market-testing and going to farmers’ markets in towns like Zionsville, Plainfield, downtown Indy and at Traders Point Creamery, taking copious notes on what her customers liked.
Shortly thereafter, Tina began receiving requests for private tea parties and catering gigs. She serves authentic sandwiches, scones and cakes made from scratch. By 2013, she was hosting pop-up tearooms in various locations in Danville, Speedway, Carmel and other locations on select dates. She will be opening her first permanent location at 30 N. Range Line Rd. inside the Simply Sweet Shoppe building in downtown Carmel. “What a great marriage this will be,” Tina said of the cohabitation with the Simply Sweet Shoppe. “Guests will come in the main door and go to the right to find the Simply Sweet Shoppe or come in to the left to find Tina’s Traditional Old English Kitchen. I think there’s really great synergy there. I’m sure people, after having tea at our tea room, will shop next door and buy some lovely chocolates to take home.”
The renovations to her space are underway. There will be seating for approximately 30-40 people with additional seating outdoors in the garden terrace that will be available next spring. There is a private room in the back, available by reservation, for bridal and baby showers or any other special event. Tina’s guests will be treated to a variety of authentic English baked goods, sandwiches, preserves and teas, all prepared from scratch. Upon her return from a trip to England to visit their two adult children, Daniel and Emma, Tina will announce a soft opening followed by her grand opening at the end of September, in time to host guests of the Carmel International Arts Festival. Tina said she had been actively searching for a location and hoping for the right opportunity to present itself, and that it would lead her to Carmel. “I wanted to hold out for something that really fits what I’m trying to do in the traditional sense. We’re in close proximity to where everything is happening in Carmel, and it is so exciting! I think that holding out for two years, while looking for the right spot, is certainly going to pay off.”
Tina’s Traditional Old English Kitchen is scheduled to open the last weekend of September and will be open from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. for lunch and afternoon tea. For more information and to view their complete menu, please visit their website at tinastraditional.com.
“At Tina’s Traditional, we want to create a safe and relaxed place for women to take time out to be themselves and take time for each other; to create a level of service where nothing is too much trouble; where we exceed expectations and you leave feeling like royalty.”