After frequently visiting the restaurant as a customer, Cindy Vincik transitioned from working in the corporate world for more than 20 years to taking ownership of The Whistle Stop Tea Room with her two sisters in 2001. Celebrating 20 years in business, the tea room has become a community staple for both new and longtime Tomball residents.

“I’ve always had an interest in [owning] a small business,” Vincik said. “I thought about how great would that be [to own a restaurant] in the community that I was raised up from second grade in Tomball schools. How wonderful [it is] to be in the community and see generations of folks that I grew up with come through my restaurant. I feel very honored, and I’m very respectful of that.”

Vincik, who became the sole owner about four years ago after her sisters took on other responsibilities, said she has built upon many of the tea room’s original menu items. Anywhere from 1,200 to 1,500 customers visit the location for dining and takeouts each week, Vincik said.

The Whistle Stop Tea Room serves a full menu of made-to-order lunch items, such as sandwiches, soups and salads as well as popular housemade desserts, including cupcakes, cookies and bread pudding, she said.

In November 2013, Vincik expanded the tea room’s event catering and takeout services into a 1,000-square-foot connecting building next door known as The Whistle Stop Express. The location, which has seen a 10 percent revenue growth since 2014, also sells gift items, she said.

“We get a lot of people who say it’s their first time out in Tomball,” Vincik said. “It’s just great to be able to welcome them in and make them feel at home. The Whistle Stop truly is an indulgence, a place to come in and indulge [and] for people to relax and take it easy. That’s what we’re all about—just making them feel special.”

The new and longtime employees help carry out the restaurant’s mission to provide Southern hospitality-style service, Vincik said. About 10 of the 22 employees have worked at the tea room for more than a decade.

The facility that houses The Whistle Stop Tea Room was one of the first shopping centers the Hutson family constructed in Old Town Tomball in 1995, The Hutson Group owner Bryan Hutson said. After transitioning through three previous owners, the restaurant’s name remained intact and is derived from its proximity to the train tracks and the original railroad depot in Tomball, Vincik said.

Vincik said she and her employees are in the midst of planning a 20th anniversary celebration to show appreciation for the business’ loyal customers.

“The thriving community, the historical district, the shopping—this is a unique area where you can come and eat, and there are so many shops in walking distance,” she said.

Popular dishes

Chicken salad: The salad consists of chicken on a bed of mixed greens surrounded by fruit, pasta or broccoli salad and topped with sprouts with dressing on the side. ($7.95)

Jalapeno pimento cheese sandwich: The sandwich is made with a mix of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, pimentos and mild jalapenos on custom bread. The dish comes with sides. ($8.95)

Tortilla soup: The soup is served with chicken, vegetables and herbs and is topped with cheese, sour cream and tortilla strips. ($5.25 bowl), ($3.25 cup)