California Tea Rooms

From Mystic Tea Room

Jump to: navigation, search

California State Tea Room Gallery, in alphabetical order by name of city or town.

From the Land of Tea

In this installment of "From the Land of Tea," we take a sneak-peek look at an upcoming page that will eventually be on display to the public. As a Patreon supporter, you have access to the page one full year before the public does.

  • Patreon Release Date: November 28th, 2022.
  • Public Release Date: November 28th, 2023.

Please tell your friends that they can subscribe to my Patreon stream for $2.00 per week:

Old California Tea Rooms!

And once again we return to the theme of Tea Rooms by Location. These are old postcards, and each one has a caption explaining it, with some additional text. These images will eventually be on display at the Mystic Tea Room web site. As a Patreon supporter, you have access to them one full year before the public does.

To place this work in context, please read the following introductory pages


Buena Park, California

Knott's Berry Place Tea Room, Buena Park, California, circa 1937. Although the signage identifies it merely as a "Berry Place," the accompanying menu booklet states that this is a tea room. The Berry Place Tea Room, which opened in 1934, was operated by Cordelia Knott as an adjunct to a large berry farm she co-owned with her husband, Walter Knott. Chicken dinners and boysenberry pies were her stock in trade, and a small gift shop sold her boysenberry jams and preserves. Mrs. Knott's cooking attracted huge crowds, which necessitated enlarging the dining space several times. To keep waiting patrons in a happy frame of mind until tables opened up for them, Walter Knott built a rock garden and waterfall, followed by a western Ghost Town. Eventually, all of the farm land was given over to a popular theme park, Knott's Berry Farm, complete with a narrow-gauge steam train, several roller coaster rides, a theater, and a plethora of costumed characters -- and the berries were grown off-site. Cordelia Knott passed away in 1974 at the age of 84, and Walter died in 1981, just short of his 92nd birthday. In 1997, the Knott family sold the park to a corporation, which runs it to this day. Thus Knott's Berry Place Tea Room may be the single most successful tea room in history. See also the lovely 1937 menu, on our Vintage Tea Room Menus page.


The Tick Tock Tea Room at 1716 North Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, California, was a one-of-a-kind place. It was founded in 1930 by Art and Helen Johnson, a former auto mechanic and a waitress from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The couple came to California, sold their car, and used the money to buy the Laurel Crest Tea Room at New Hampshire and Beverly Boulevard. Unfortunately, the tea room's sign did not come with the tea room, so they took the Tick Tock name from a restaurant in their old home town and hung a cuckoo clock on the wall. Their offer of a 65 cent turkey dinner proved so popular that they sold from 30 to 100 meals a day and had to move to larger quarters twice to make room for all their customers. In 1934 they opened on Cahuenga Blvd. with room to seat 300 people and serve 2,000 meals a day, six days a week. Patrons brought them cuckoo clocks and they hung them up until the walls were covered with them. The food was cooked home-style -- plentiful and inexpensive, changing with the seasons -- and there were fresh flowers on every table. A staff of 75 employees, including at times Art and Helen's five children and 13 grandchildren, worked in the tea room. There were special meals and decorations for every holiday. The couple passed away in the 1980s and by 1988 the Tick Tock Tea Room was no more. This linen-finish postcard dates from the 1940s-1950s. Don't you wish you could visit the Tick Tock Tea Room? Well, i can, in my memory. It was a grand experience to eat there as a child in the 1950s, and i think the world would be a better place if tea rooms like the Tick Tock still existed.

Long Beach, California

The Red Cross Tea Room, Long Beach California, real photo post card, circa 1910; the decor is unusual, for in addition to the customary potted plants and painted garden lattice-work, there are oversized painted silhouettes of parrots in the window and on the walls.

Los Angeles, California

Copper Kettle Tea Room, 23 Mercantile Place, Los Angeles, California, postcard front, circa 1909, published by the Benham Indian Trading Co. The hand-lettered caption on the photo that was the basis for this coloured card reads "Copper Kettle Inn," but that is an error, because all advertising ephemera and references to the establishment in contemporary newspapers and magazines identify it as the Copper Kettle Tea Room. The Copper Kettle opened in 1908 under the proprietorship of two sisters, Smith college alumna Harriet Morris (1880 - 1961) and Barnard College alumna Mildred Morris, helped by their friend Beatrice Wigmore. In addition to tea and light lunches, The Copper Kettle sold Japanese and Chinese basketry and gift wares; by 1915 they were also marketing confections or candies that were sold along the Southern Pacific Railroad route. The building that housed The Copper Kettle -- and, in fact, every shop on both sides of the street, and the entirety of Mercantile Place itself -- was demolished in 1923 as part of a large urban high-rise building program.
Copper Kettle Tea Room, 23 Mercantile Place, Los Angeles, California, postcard back, published by the Benham Indian Trading Co. circa 1909.
Copper Kettle Tea Room, 23 Mercantile Place, Los Angeles, California, circa 1910, Neuner postcard front, This shows a redecoration at The Copper Kettle, when compared to the 1909 published by the Benham Indian Trading Co. photo.
Copper Kettle Tea Room, Restaurant, circa 1910, Neuner, postcard back.
Mary Louise Tea Room Foyer, Los Angeles, California, interior, postcard front. The Mary Louise Tea Room complex occupied a medium-sized building opposite Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park) in Los Angeles. Within its boxy stucco exterior there were rooms furnished according to certain themes. The foyer, which also housed a gift shop, was in lush art deco style. Women frequented the Mary Louise for casual lunches, and they could reserve rooms for club meetings or private parties, and would therefore meet in the foyer. In addition to some statuary, The Mary Louise gift shop carried quite an amazing array of fine porcelain boudoir half-dolls, as can be seen. (To those who are either curious or enthusiastic about porcelain half-dolls, all i can say is that this site is half-doll friendly, and i may write a page on half-doll tea cozies at a later date, but for the true half-doll experience, you should conduct an internet search on your own to find the motherlode of half-doll imagery and the nexi of half-doll collector conversations.) At the far end of the foyer, you can see the formal claret-coloured valances and lace curtains of the main tea room, as well a a rolling tea-cart. White drapery held up over the open entry to the tea room indicates that if it were booked for a large party or reception, it could be closed off to the public.
Mary Louise Tea Room, Los Angeles, California, interior, postcard front. This is one of several private side-rooms in the Mary Louise Tea Room complex. It is what we used to call "Fahn-Say" (with a fake French accent) when i was a kid. The decor is Rococo or French Baroque, with a hyper-feminine colour palette of white, pale pink, lavender, and warm grey. Fabric is used extensively to enhance the effect of elegance. Not only is there elaborate drapery, but the backs of the simple cane-bottomed bentwood cafe chairs are outfitted with grey slip-covers in a subtle heart pattern. The large circular table, laid out for a party, is covered in white damask. A central be-ribboned floral mound is set inside of what seems to be netting crafted to represent four tennis nets, stretched between four silver candle stands, each holding a tall pink taper candle. In front of each tennis net is an exquisitely dressed porcelain half-doll, similar to those on display and for sale in the Mary Louise Foyer Gift Shop. There are 12 place-settings, each marked by a single pink rose in a glass bud-vase and a large lavender and white floral corsage for the guests to pin to their dresses, A confection in a sherbet glass, on a gold-rimmed glass under-plate, sits at each place, along with silverware. It may be an ice or a moulded gelatin salad topped with cherries or strawberries. A rolling tea cart at right holds silver tea necessities. A vase of long-stemmed red roses and another finely-dressed half-doll, as well as two candle-stands with white candles, rest on silver lame cloth on the rococo fireplace mantel. The drapery is multi-layered in white lace, pink gauze, and grey silk, with tassels. The gilded electric chandelier (called an electrolier in those days) bears faux white candles. Two framed prints hang from pink tasseled cords, one with an unusually knobbed antique chair beneath it, and the other above a small side table bearing two more silver candlesticks with white candles, a bit of lavender drapery, and an open bowl of ornamental fruits. The Chinese area rug is red, white, pink, and grey, to match the room. This photo is signed, but the copy i have is trimmed in such a way that i cannot say for certain what the signature is. It looks like "J. (or I.) F. Clayton, 2/28/16 (or 26)."
Mary Louise Tea Room, Los Angeles, Interior, postcard back
Mary Louise Italian Tea Garden postcard front
Mary Louise Tea Room, Lost Angeles postcard back
Mary Louise Tea Room, Exterior postcard front
Mary Louise Tea Room, Exterior postcard back
The Mah Jong Room at the Mary Louise Tea Room complex opposite Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park) in Los Angeles, California. This flower-bedecked Chinoisserie room was reserved for parties of women who wanted to play the Chinese game of mah-jong, which was very popular during the 1920s and 1930s. Note the harmonious colour scheme of muted blues and yellows, the gilded curio niche with enshrined Orientalia, the lovely carpets, and the woven rattan furnishings, which are similar to those at the Copper Kettle Tea Room in Los Angeles, California, and at the Sun Parlor Tea Room at the Young Women's Christian Association in Dallas, Texas. Tea came from China, and there were many importers of Asian goods located on the West Coast, so outfitting a tea room as a Chinoisserie was not difficult to accomplish prior to World War Two.

Oakland, California

Hotel Oakland Tea Room, Serving Afternoon Tea at the Hotel Oakland, Oakland, California postcard front.jpg
Hotel Oakland Tea Room, Serving Afternoon Tea at the Hotel Oakland, Oakland, California postcard back

Pacific Grove, California

Japanese Tea Garden, 1910s, Pacific Grove, California, postcard front

Pasadena, California

The Rose Tree Tea House, Pasadena, California, exterior. The town of Pasadena was incorporated in 1886 and was known as somewhat of a suburban artist's colony. It was developed with an eye for beauty, and most of the residential streets were lined with trees and flowering gardens. The widespread use of Craftsman style bungalow architecture gave the town a unified look, with all of its parts in human scale, very homey and welcoming. This real photo postcard of the Rose Tree Tea House from around 1905-1915 shows us Pasadena at its best.
The Rose Tree Tea House, Pasadena, California, interior. This real photo postcard shows us the Mission Style interior of the Rose Tree Tea House, circa 1905-1915, with tables situated before a cozy fireplace.
Samovar Tea Room, Pasadena California, postcard front
Samovar Tea Room, Pasadena California, postcard back

San Francisco, California

George Haas established his first candy factory and store in San Fracisco in 1868. In 1882 the George Haas and Sons candy company opened a shop in the triangular Phelan Building at the corners of Market Street, O’Farrell Street, and Grant Avenue. The building and its beaux-arts interiors were designed by William Curlett. After the great earthquake and fire of 1906, the Phelan Building was reconstructed on the same lot, again under the direction of William Curlett, and reopened to the public in 1908. It is this second incarnation of the Geo. Haas and Sons tea room, the New Tea Room on the second floor, that we see on this postcard: "A Lovely Place to Lunch -- Rich and Restful in Tones of Old Ivory and Wedgewood Blue." The text on the back of the card reads, "New Tea Room of Geo. Haas and Sons, Phelan Building Candy Store. Entrance 51 O'Farrell Street, near Grant Avenue, opposite Kohler and Chase."
The New Tea Room of Geo. Haas and Sons was part of a complex within the Phelan Building that also included a shop selling fancy boxed candies, shown at left, and a combination ice cream parlour and soda fountain, at right. The Haas candy company ceased operations in 1940 but the original Haas candy factory and the Phelan Building still stand, and both have been designated as Historic Landmarks.
Hale Bros. Inc. Cafe and Tea Room, San Francisco, California. Hale Bros. was a department store chain that originated in Sacramento, California, and spread throughout the region. After the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed much of San Francisco, Hale Bros. boasted that their new building, which was completed and opened in 1912, was the "First Store rehabilitated since the great fire." The tea room and cafe is done up in the popular Craftsman style of the period, complete with potted palms. The Hale Brothers Department Store building still stands at the corner of Market Street and Fifth, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hee Jan and Co. Chinese Restaurant and Tea Garden, San Francisco, California. One of many elaborate Cantonese-style buildings in San Francisco, this establishment also boasted a rather unexpected moving picture house on the ground floor. The advertised Kinetoscope was a one-person peep-hole viewer, not a projector. Introduced to the public in 1895, Kinetoscope Parlours were rooms filled with these machines, in which operators stood by to assist the customers in viewing short films that were accompanied by sounds played on synchronized photograph disks. The advent of film projection brought an end to the Kinetoscope in 1914, this giving us a date-range for this postcard. The text on the back identifies the card as part of the Southern Pacific Railroad series "On the Road of a Thousand Wonders."
The Laurel Court Tea Room, within the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco, California; published by Edward Mitchell, circa 1910. The potted palms, faux garden trellises, faux marble Ionic pillars, white table linens, crystal chandelier, and beaux-arts iron work spiral staircase mark this as a luxury tea room for the very well-to-do.
The Laurel Court Tea Room, renamed the Laurel Court Restaurant, is still a part of the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California, as this photo from 2023 reveals. Gone are the potted palms, white table linens, crystal chandelier, and faux garden trellises, but the faux marble Ionic pillars still stand tall, the beaux-arts iron work staircase continues to spiral around, and the overall atmosphere is still as gilded as it was in 1910.
Nanking Tea Room, Fook Woh Co., San Francisco, California, exterior, postcard front. The card dates from 1908 - 1910. It has a divided back, was not postally used, and the vehicles include a street car, an open roadster, and two horse-drawn wagons. Other versions of this card exist, some with no surprinting in the sky area and some with the name Nanking in block letters rather than a script font. The building was erected after the 1906 earthquake and fire. It still exists and now houses a bank.

Santa Rosa, California

The Tudor Rose English Tea Room in Santa Rosa, California, from an online photo taken in 2020. The Tudor Rose Tea Room was founded in 2013 by Angela Grant, a native of Wallasey, Merseyside, England, a town across the Mersey River from Liverpool. The ambience and menus were British, with an emphasis on high tea and themed tea parties for special occasions.
Another View of the The Tudor Rose English Tea Room in Santa Rosa, California, from an online photo taken in 2020. Alas, the Tudor Rose English Tea Room was hard-hit by the Covid pandemic, and although Grant pivoted to dinners-to-go and re-opened for tea once indoor dining restrictions were lifted, the Tudor Rose did not survive. The final closure, after almost ten years as a beloved downtown institution, came in January 2023. We will miss it!

catherine yronwode
curator, historian, and docent
The Mystic Tea Room

See Also

Personal tools