A tea room in Ridgeway? But there is nothing up there, how will you ever make it?
We heard this said so many times! Ridgeway is a small town, a very small town. The population is not much over 400. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm and warmth. My mother, better known as Grama, helped me with my small gift shop in Blythewood, just 10 miles south of Ridgeway. Whenever we could we would come up and walk these beautiful streets and talk to all the wonderful people. Once you have been to Ridgeway you will understand. So when the owners of The Thomas Company stopped into our gift shop one day on their way back home and we found out that they had one of our much loved old buildings up here everything was put into motion. Almost 3 years later, in 2008, we opened our doors to Laura’s Tea Room. This lovely building was built in 1911 and was the second location of the Thomas Company that began in or around 1865. No, my name is not Laura, its Carol, but I will answer to it! Laura Thomas was the last member of the Thomas family to run the mercantile before it was closed in the mid 1990’s. While we were getting set up here we met a lot of local people and when we would tell them that we were going to open a tea room …after they looked at us like we had lost our minds…they would tell us how very proud of that Miss Laura would be. After hearing that so many times it was just the right name!
My Mom and I have been collecting tea cups and tea pots for as long as I can remember. Now most of them are used in the tea room, and all of them have a story! This is truly a family business, and even the employees become family very quickly! My husband has always been very supportive of all I do here, as long as I don’t ask him to pour tea! He did help start our wonderful deli and designed most of the sandwiches and recipes. His cole slaw is the best! Our son, Corey, who lives in Georgia gets pulled in when ever he is in town to help with everything from unclogging drains, mowing lawns or taking pictures. His son,Casey, is one of our main servers in the tea room, he is the one with the long hair..and I really wish all you girls would quit telling him not to cut it!
Our daughter Kelly and her family live in Ireland and come from time to time to help out. In 2012 I whined enough that Kelly and her son Seamus came for 4 months and helped during the holidays! We had lots of special dinners in the deli while she was here, even Shepard’s Pie! So that’s my real family, but our staff and guests feel just like family also! Come see us and you will know what I mean!
We hope the store may continue to serve the community in whatever way it can. Rural stores sometimes have to change to keep up with progress and community growth.
On the 100th anniversary of The Thomas Company, Laura Thomas said “We hope the store may continue to serve the community in whatever way it can. Rural stores sometimes have to change to keep up with progress and community growth.” We think Laura would approve of what we are doing.