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TASTE • DINE

Blooming with Success This tea room offers a carefree peek at English tradition By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

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hen Jo Gemmill moved from England to Seattle, she wanted to share her heritage with Americans to ease her homesickness. But it wasn’t until she found the charming Carefree in 2002 that she opened the English Rose Tea Room, where she serves scones, crumpets, cottage pie, Ploughman’s lunches and more than 50 loose-leaf teas. Gemmill has celebrated royal babies and weddings as well as her guests’ life events. “Americans are so interested in the royals, whether they follow them for good reasons or otherwise,” Gemmill says. “Consequently, the tea room does well because if there’s a royal wedding or a royal baby or a royal diamond jubilee, whatever it might be, we can make a big deal about that. It becomes a great place to come for an event.” Guests share their heartwarming stories about the royals, like watching Princess Diana’s wedding at 3 a.m. in the United States, or the footage on CNN leading up to her death. “It’s a Kennedy moment,” she says. “Everybody remembers where they were when Kennedy was shot. Everyone knows where they were when they heard what happened to Diana. They’re life-changing moments. “People say things happen for a reason, but she was such an iconic woman. Because of the tragedy, we’ve felt far more connected to her sons. They make the royal family far more relevant.”

Jo Gemmill opened the English Rose Tea Room in 2002. (Photo courtesy the English Rose Tea Room)

Harry and William’s wives, the former Megan Markle and Kate Middleton, have been embraced, creating even more interest. “Kate will be queen one day, so she does have a certain amount of limitations on what she can and can’t do,” she says. “She has to toe the party line a bit more and be a lot more conservative in her way. Megan has a lot more freedom and I think it’s more fun to see.” The royal men are just as interesting, she adds. “Harry was never looked at as particularly a good boy,” Gemmill says. “And between the two of them, it’s kind of fun to see what they get up to. They’ll be great ambassadors for the country. I would

anticipate that they’ll spend some time out of the country doing other things.” China, royals collectibles and linen-covered tables will the rooms. Family photographs are slipped under the glass atop the tables. The plates that line the walls are gifts from customers. “A lot of the royal paraphernalia and china was given to me by customers, too, who don’t want it any more but they want to know it’s being appreciated,” Gemmill says. “For the pictures, people will say, ‘I’d love you to have this to put under the glass on the table as a memory of my mom. She used to come to your restaurant all the time and she’s passed away.’That’s what’s fun about being

NORTHVALLEYMAGAZINE.COM AUGUST 2019 | SEPTEMBER 2019

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North Valley Magazine August/September 2019  

North Valley Magazine August/September 2019  

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