Since 1994, Carolyn Zimmer has been serving up soup, salad, sandwiches and, of course, tea to the Friendswood community at The Charleston Tea Room.
Zimmer said she and a colleague opened The Charleston Tea Room after spending time at similar lunch spots in the Greater Houston area and realizing the Friendswood community was lacking something comparable.
“We had seen some of the other tea rooms throughout Houston, and thought we could do that,” Zimmer said. “We chose Friendswood because it did not have anything like this. It has been a fabulous community to be in. I don’t think we would have been this successful anywhere else.”
While the tea room is only open during lunch—11 a.m. to 2 p.m.—Zimmer said from the start, the job has never been easy.
“It was difficult. We did all of the manual labor to set this place up,” Zimmer said. “It was a lot of work. It wasn’t easy. People think having a tea room is a cute idea and easy. It’s not.”
The restaurant also offers full-service catering—including the full menu or preparing a meal that is off-menu—and hosts events like bridal showers by request.
Despite the hard work, Zimmer said she has spent the last 23 years building relationships with customers and creating a family atmosphere.
“It’s a blast,” Zimmer said. “My customers are amazing. They are family. We know them. We know about them. We’ve lost some of our loyal customers, and it hurts because they have become family to us.”
That family includes college-aged kids, who make their way back to Friendswood during breaks.
“College kids go to school and the first place they want to come to when they get home is the tea room because they’ve missed it,” Zimmer said.
Developing relationships from the beginning has been a calling card of the tea room, according to Zimmer. She said as she has watched the business grow, she has seen the community grow and change, too.
“What’s fun is watching customers come in who came in when they were little, and now they are bringing their babies in,” Zimmer said. “That makes you feel old, but it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Charleston Tea Room
154 S. Friendswood Drive, Friendswood
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-2 p.m.,
Apricot iced tea ($2.29): Brewed loose-leaf tea with no sugar added and served on ice
The Sampler ($8.99): The platter includes chicken salad and turkey sandwiches, primo pimento, pumpkin bread and the Charleston delight, a fruit, cream cheese and Cool Whip dessert.
Chicken salad sandwich ($8.49): Freshly prepared chicken, celery, apples and pecans served on a croissant
Primo pimento ($6.99): Homemade pimento cheese with slices of bacon, melted and served open faced on white or wheat bread
Quiche ($8.99): Homemade spinach mushroom quiche or quiche Lorraine