For more than 100 years, the Wenham Tea House has served as a gathering space, hosting luncheons, afternoon tea, children’s parties, and brunches for North Shore communities.
But like so many other restaurants reeling from COVID-19‘s economic fallout, the tea house was forced to shutter.
On Saturday morning, Wenham Tea House announced in a Facebook post that the historic establishment will close under its current management.
“Due to challenges with staffing, we will have to close under the management of Chris Keohane and the Fresh Food Company,” the post read. “We will be contacting all reservations today and tomorrow. We will also be contacting all shower requests as we are unable to operate those requests any longer. This is a permanent closure for the current tea house of the past ten years.”
A subsequent post by Keohane on his personal Facebook page confirmed the closure.
“After many years of enjoyment at the Tea House, I will not be able to operate it any longer,” Keohane wrote. “Challenges with product, staffing, and finances due to the pandemic has really put pressure that I cannot handle anymore. Thank you for allowing me to serve the beautiful tea house for the past 10 years. It was an absolute honor.”
The owner also shared a message on the tea house’s page Tuesday morning reminiscing about everything that his team would miss about the place.
“We are going to miss everyone and everything so much,” he wrote. “From the creaking of opening the front door every morning. The smiling kids coming in with their families. The look of remembrance on mothers’ eyes as they watch their kids create new memories. That special smell of bacon and muffins in the air. The whir of compressors clicking on in the kitchen. The sound of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald filling the air. We are going to miss all of it. It has been our honor to serve you and the Wenham Tea House. Thank you all for an incredible decade.”
The Wenham Village Improvement Society, the tea house’s landlord, said that the business has not permanently closed, and that they will find a new tenant. Keohane did not immediately respond to Boston.com’s request for comment.
Wenham Tea House is considered the oldest operating tea house in the U.S. It originally opened in 1912 as a women’s exchange for locals to gather and trade goods while enjoying food and tea. During the pandemic, it launched Freshly Delivered, transforming its kitchen into a production facility that packaged delivery meals ordered through the tea house’s website.
While Wenham Tea House is currently closed, Keohane told Wicked Local Beverly that he hopes to see fans back at the tea house “under someone else’s leadership.”