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Salt Lake's Beehive Tea Room closes after 10-year-run

Published July 10, 2013 5:36 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Beehive Tea Room — a place where you could enjoy black tea and scones as if you were in Paris during the 1920s — has closed.

Owner Lisa Brady said she'd been waiting a decade for her labor of love to be profitable. And while it was a wrenching decision to make, years of working 70 hour-weeks were taking their toll.

The Salt Lake City shop, located at 12 W. 300 South, closed on June 30.

"Right up until the end, I wasn't sure what was going to happen. You always think you'll find another rabbit in your hat. Sometimes there just aren't any more rabbits," she said.

The 50-year-old said there were a handful of reasons — she described them as "death from a thousand paper cuts" — that led to her decision. The Great Recession limited disposable income for tea and biscuits. The TRAX station at Gallivan Plaza near the tea house was no longer a transfer point for passengers headed to the University of Utah. Last year, Salt Lake City increased the price to park at meters to $2 an hour, and extended enforcement hours. Business also seemed to drop off as more dining options have become available downtown.

And she was worn out, she said. "I didn't get to go to any of my sister's baby showers because I was putting on other people's showers," she said.

Still, even though she stopped serving food to the general public before the end of June, she kept the business open to hold bridal and baby showers that had already been scheduled.

Diners loved spots like the Willow Room, with its brocade and velvet furnishings, cut crystal and antique mirrors. Brady said she decorated it in "nostalgia decor" so diners could imagine they'd stepped into a time machine and traveled to whatever time period they liked.

The tea room also hosted a Sundance Cafe during the annual film festival, showcasing live music and staying open later. Brady said she wouldn't have survived as long as she did without that Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau event.

"We did and do have a very loyal and devoted following, and they're going to be really sad that we're gone, and I feel terrible about that," she said. "We worked really hard to make the tearoom the best that it could be."

Her followers on Facebook shared their displeasure Wednesday. "Your tea was so great that I had a friend ship it 2,000 miles to me. I will have to ration my milk and honey tea now," wrote Laura Vines, from Georgia.

And Natalie Blackman declared it her "favorite place in all of Utah."

Brady will miss them, too. "We did have really great chai. In fact, I'll miss having chai every day."

hmay@sltrib.com