Whenever Loretta Foreman saw acquaintances at the grocery store, they always asked her the same question: “Loretta, when are you opening it again?”
“It” referred to the Country Emporium, a teahouse and antique store that operated in Central from 1984 to 2012. A decade later, the shop is finally reborn. The Cottage Café and Tea Room held its grand opening last Friday, offering residents of the Capital Region a new place to enjoy teas and desserts in a warm setting.
Guests will find a calming, family-friendly environment and a full-service menu featuring many Country Emporium favorites, such as the Green Bean Sandwich and Peach Cream Pie. Customers can choose between an afternoon tea (which is usually a teapot and dessert) or an afternoon tea (which is more of a full meal including soups, sandwiches, scones and dessert). All dishes are prepared on site from recipes taken with family or friends.
In the ’80s, teahouses were as rare in the Baton Rouge area as they are today. So when Foreman opened the Country Emporium, it quickly became a fixture in the community. OWhen the business closed in 2012, Foreman, now 84, had no plans to reopen, until her granddaughter Sarah Ulmer, 26, expressed interest in helping her. to manage the business.
Country Emporium regulars who would come and sit for hours quietly drinking tea will now find the same tranquil environment in the Cottage Cafe and Tea Room. “It’s like a ministry,” Foreman says.
Built inside a cottage, stepping into the cafe feels like visiting an old friend’s house. The space has various tea rooms, including a carport that has been renovated in one of the bedrooms. Each room was intentionally designed to be calming and to accommodate parties of varying sizes. A lush courtyard surrounds the property, where the owners plan to add picnic tables. The cottage is full of antiques, including decorative teacups and hats, many from the Country Emporium. Through their partnership, Foreman and Ulmer have been able to take many of the Country Emporium’s beloved features and innovate them – and they say they have plenty more to come.
The supportive environment of The Cottage Cafe and Tea Room also extends to its staff. The company aims to provide mentorship to its team, enabling young adults from local schools to learn how to work in the restaurant business while being in a supportive environment. Calling them “tea girls”, Ulmer says it’s “more than just a job” for them.
“It’s about guiding them through life and helping them learn day-to-day tasks and just things they wouldn’t learn in a normal job, giving them individual attention,” she explains.
Ulmer and Foreman anticipate that newcomers and regulars to the old Country Emporium will return to the Cottage Cafe and Tea Room – and when they do, they’ll find the shop’s old favorites and its familiar sense of peace, all in an updated space with exciting plans for the future.
The Cottage Cafe and Tea Room is open Wednesday through Sunday. Afternoon Tea is served daily, High Tea from 2-4 p.m. requires a one-day advance reservation and is served from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The Cottage Cafe and Tea Room is located at 10443 Joor Road.
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