Wenham Tea House reopens with new dinner offerings, new owners and old favorites

After being closed for more than a year due to the pandemic, downtown Wenham Tea House has reopened.

“The closing was sad; people were devastated, but we always intended to reopen, ”said Kirsten Alexander of the Wenham Village Improvement Society, which owns the site on Monument Avenue and leases it to professional conservators. “In the meantime, we’ve heard a lot of lamentations and inquiries about this. It is an institution. People are excited.

“It’s always been this type of establishment,” added Bethany Minich, incoming co-chair of WVIS. “It’s a fantastic part of the Wenham community to have a place to go to have dinner.

At the start of the pandemic, Fresh Foods restaurateurs, like many of their colleagues, focused on take out food to stay in business. Eventually, they switched to full-time take-out and dining, which left an opening for a new operator at the Tea House.

Minich and others knew the new operators and Hamilton residents Brenden Crocker and Milissa Oraibi from the restaurants they had in nearby communities. As residents of Hamilton, they were “trying to get in here,” as Crocker put it.

The Wenham Tea House has been in operation since 1912.

At the start of the tea house, dating from 1912, it was operated by volunteers, mainly from WVIS, which was established in the 1850s and continues to use the proceeds from the rental of the tea house and others. fundraising activities to provide scholarships. and maintain facilities such as tennis and pickle ball courts and a playground near the tea house.

“Our philosophy is to beautify the city,” said Minich.

Alexander said WVIS was one of several women’s philanthropic and charitable organizations founded at the time.

For years, the tea house operated as a sort of women’s club and tea room, but was also the venue for civic meetings, conferences, and classes in fields as diverse as nursing and weaving. carpet.

The new owners of the Wenham Tea House, Milissa Oraibi and Brenden Crocker.

Over the past decades, it has grown into a restaurant open to the public for lunch, tea, and weekend brunch. Alexander describes himself as a regular customer and a fan of tea.

It is also home to the Wenham Tea House gift shop and an independent clothing store.

Changes to the tea house

Considering the length of the shutdown and Crocker and Oraibi’s plans to add dinner options, a major renovation has been done in the restaurant and kitchen.

“Dinner was their idea; it fits their business model, ”said Minich. “We offered to do some renovations to meet the requirements of a new tenant.

Entrance to the Wenham Tea House.

“They did a great job under our leadership,” confirmed Oraibi. “It’s a whole new kitchen. “

The menu is best described as American cuisine. Crocker used the term “basic cooking”. He doesn’t have to be fancy to be good.

Minich considers the menu to be more modern than in previous years.

Tea time, between lunch and dinner, is a specialty in its own right and continues the tradition of the Tea House. Oraibi described it as “a labor of love”.

“It’s beautiful,” Crocker said. “It’s hard to do anything else during tea. “

Some of the teas served are available for purchase in the gift shop.

Tea time at the Wenham Tea House includes tea and delicious treats.

Things seem to be going well.

“Suburban restaurants are doing well,” Alexander said. “People living in the suburbs work from home,” although Crocker acknowledges that “doing well before the pandemic is nothing like doing well before it”.

He and Oraibi hope to be at the Tea House for at least five years.

“Our aim is to do what we do best, which is to run a restaurant,” said Oraibi.

Wenham Tea House chef Brenden Crocker runs a kitchen with new dishes.

Alexander, among others, is happy that the Tea House is open again.

“People see this area as a desert of restaurants,” she said. “It’s good to have this in Wenham.”

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