Alabama Tea Rooms

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

Columbiana, Alabama

Heart's Desire Tea Room at the Columbia In in Columbiana, Alabama, online photograph, 2020. The Columbiana Inn is a bed and breakfast with an included tea room. The building dates to 1889 and was restored by the tea room proprietors, Andrew and Diane Moore.

Seale, Alabama

The Villula Tea Garden in Seale, Alabama, founded by Helen Dudley Jeorg and her husband Robert Jeorg in 1947, when she was about 52 years old; she had previously operated another tea room in Columbus, Alabama

Helen Dudley Joerg at the Villula Tea Garden in 1961, at about the age of 66.

This article, published in 1978, described the history of the Vullula Tea Room, as told by Mrs. Jeorg, then 83 years old and still quite active.

Special Sesquicentennial Supplement II

Ledger-Enquirer, Sunday, May 7, 1978. S-19.

Villula Tea Garden Popular

By John Gagley

Enquirer Staff Writer

SEALE, Ala. - Villula Tea Garden patrons swear by this cozy little place in the country - even if there is no tea garden here.

The Villula Tea Garden is really a charming, old fashioned southern restaurant operated by a charming, old-fashioned southern lady who believes customers should be treated like family.

Helen Joerg, 83, is the well-known proprietor and hostess who still bustles about her "tea room" dining hall greeting her many friends.

"Sometimes on a Sunday the room will be full," said Mrs. Joerg. "There'll be people here from seven different communities, and I'll know everyone in the room."

One gets the feeling soon from talking with Mrs. Joerg that pleasing her friends is the reason she's still in business after 30 years here.

"You know, that's really the thing about it," she confided. "It makes you feel good to have pleased somebody."

It would be hard to estimate the pleasures Mrs. Joerg has provided her friends and regular customers. Although it may seem she has picked an unlikely place for a restaurant, she has regular customers who journey from Columbus, Eufaula, Auburn, Opelika, Dothan, Montgomery and points beyond.

They come for the excellent southern food, or the gift-shop decor and atmosphere of what Mrs. Joerg calls her "tea room." The place is really a souvenir shop-restaurant. Woven cane chairs a fireplace and wooden floors help create a homey feeling.

But some make the trip to Seale because they obviously enjoy Mrs. Joerg's company.

It would be hard for anyone not to. She seems born to have been a hostess. Her open friendly manner puts guests at ease and makes them feel at home.

"Tea rooms are practically extinct now, you know. Everything’s commercial these days," she offered by way of explaining her business. "I don't know of any other tea room. We lose money every month, but I love it. I love the folks who come here.

"Of course, I've had to slow down as far as staying open too much at night," she continued. "Now, we're open only for lunch every day and at night by appointment."

Mrs. Joerg had a tea room in Columbus for a while before moving to Villuia in 1947 with her late husband, Robert. She also worked as a hostess at the Columbus Country Club.

During that time, she recalled, she served meals and chatted with the likes of Amelia Earhart, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gens. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and George Patton.

More recently, former Fort Benning Commanding Gen. Willard Latham was a regular customer. And a "mighty nice one" in Mrs. Joerg's view.

There are those, however, who come for the first time and expect to find an Oriental style tea garden. Mrs. Joerg told of one such group who came expecting "little wooden bridges and so on" but had a good time anyway. They were Japanese.

"You don't think," she added with a smile, "that Tea Garden is perhaps a bit misleading, do you?"

Even if you can't get Lap Sang Soo Chong, you can buy canned jellies and preserves, as well as dolls and other knick-knacks. If you're lucky, you may even convince Mrs. Joerg to sell one of her miniature oil paintings of landscape scenes.

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

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