New gluten free tea destination! THIS I will have to check out!! Courtesy of the Daily Herald:
Antioch tea shop pours out all the stops -- including a gluten-free menu
The owner of a shop specializing in tea parties realizes she has to alter her business plan to continue to grow.
Lorrie Ferguson is adding products and services at Infini-Tea in Antioch in an effort to keep the business going strong. Farmer's markets, tea tastings and an expanded menu featuring gluten-free products are included in the changes.
"You can't just wait for people to come in the door," said Ferguson, who started the business nearly five years ago after retiring early from a corporate job at Abbott Laboratories. She believes a proactive approach is best.
To get her name and her tea out there, Ferguson is participating in Farmer's markets in Grayslake, Antioch and Burlington, Wis. She is also doing tea tastings at retirement and nursing homes throughout the area.
"I'm going to Wheeling in July to conduct a seminar and tasting," Ferguson said.
The business owner features 70 teas at her shop at 902 Main St. in downtown Antioch. She has grown her business through personal referrals in the past.
"We draw from far out. People are always looking for a nice tea place," she said.
Quality food served at the tea parties is another important aspect for Ferguson. A crabmeat spread is a popular item along with the turkey mango wrap and the seafood delight salad. Scones and an array of sweets are other favorites.
She has worked with manager Barbara Ivaniszyn of Fox Lake to develop a gluten-free menu. Ivaniszyn, who has celiac disease, a digestive condition affected by the consumption of the protein gluten, has worked to create recipes for gluten-free meals, breads and desserts.
"People are so thrilled to come in and have a gluten-free scone," Ferguson said.
The business started with a limited menu and hours. The shop has expanded, and beginning June 1, will be open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings for dinner.
A full four-course Royal Treatment tea event is $18.95 while the afternoon Tea Lite is $9.95.
The business has been busy with bridal and baby showers as well as mother-daughter tea events. Tea events for girls to teach etiquette have also been popular.
"It's a family-oriented business," said Ferguson, 59.
The idea for the business originated when Ferguson used to travel while for Abbott.
"This was the type of establishment that I would seek out as a single female who traveled a lot. I wanted a place to feel pampered," she said.
For more information, check out infini-tea.net or call (847) 395-3520.
• Kim Mikus covers small business and retail. She welcomes comments at email@example.com or (847) 427-4567.