Tea’s Me Cafe is a local Black-owned business striving to build a strong sense of community while providing a wide range of high quality teas. Although Tea’s Me was originally established 13 years ago by Wayne Ashford, community leader and former WNBA player Tamika Catchings took over the establishment three years ago.
Under Tamika’s ownership, Tea’s Me has hosted several events focused on community engagement, youth development and creative expression, but what really distinguishes Tea’s Me from other cafes is its welcoming environment and the staff’s efforts towards creating a safe space for customers.
“You never know who you’ll see in here and it’s never a dull moment,” General Manager Joi DeFrantz says. “I think it’s really our sense of community that distinguishes us. People first come in to just enjoy the tea, but then end up reuniting with an old friend or making a new one. Also, we really make an effort from our customer service standpoint to know your name, know your tea and to remember things about you so when you come back you feel welcome.”
Some of Tea’s Me’s signature events consist of a speaker series where members of the community have the opportunity to speak on their professions, a book club hosted every second Saturday of the month and tea therapy hosted every fourth Saturday of the month.
One of Tea’s Me’s most impactful events is their youth poetry night which is hosted every first Friday of the month. This event provides a space for youth from the ages of 7 to 15 to express themselves creatively in the form of poetry and music, while also allowing customers to engage and interact with their peers. Tea’s Me also employs youth, showing them the ins and outs of running a business as part of Tamika’s focus on youth progression and prosperity.
The success of Tea’s Me’s signature events is due to the hard working staff behind the scenes organizing and assessing each task with intention. Trial and error, optimism and perseverance are what Joi believes keeps any business standing strong.
“You have to be able to continue to pull through and try to stay positive no matter what’s going on,” Joi says. “That positive energy and perspective helps get you to the next step if you’re having a rough time with something. Also, you have to be open to trying different things and making necessary adjustments.”
Nonetheless, Tea’s Me wouldn’t be Tea’s Me without its selection of high quality teas, including Tamika’s personal favorite The Tropical Cyclone blended with passionfruit and mango. Sourced from the shop’s original owner, each tea is intentionally selected for the benefit and satisfaction of their customers. Additionally Tea’s me offers a food menu of light and refreshing dishes including their most popular food item, the chicken salad sandwich.
“We definitely want to provide great tea and great food, but the second part of our mission is to be a community space where people feel welcome and comfortable enough to be who they are,” Joi says. “We’re here for everybody. We get a mixture of all different types of people including students, business leaders and even travelers so being able to have a space with a sense of community is very important to us.”
Unforuntetly Tea’s Me had to close it’s doors due to the COVID-19 spread. There are ways to help keep this business afloat during this time. Customers can purchase tea’s in bulk from their website, purchase e-gift cards, donate to them and their employees as they aren’t being paid during this time, or take a pic of you enjoying a cup of tea and post it on social using #TeasMeMugChallenge.