One of the NYC hotspots for kids and parents alike is Alice’s Tea Cup. Owned by the beautiful sisters Haley and Lauren Fox, the restaurants (yes, there are 3!) are gorgeous, whimsical and fun. It’s a perfect place to go for high tea that is not highbrow; it’s accessible for all ages. We spoke with Haley and Lauren about running their restaurants, tea that is tempting for little girls and why they are truly Alice In Wonderland purists at heart.
When did you acquire your taste for tea?
Haley: We grew up drinking tea as girls. We thought it was an experience and a way to bond. We were always sad that after you left having had tea, you were hungry, though.
Lauren: We loved everything about it, except that! We wanted to bring high tea into New York, but make it more accessible.
Haley: It’s a timeless experience; it doesn’t have to be a special occasion. Having afternoon tea is proper for adults, but it can be fun for kids, too. So we wanted to create an environment that was loose but also
had that bit of whimsy to it. So that’s where the Alice theme came in. We kept channeling the Mad Hatter tea parties in our minds. We didn’t want to Disney-fy it, but we wanted it to also have that Victorian feel.
Alice’s Tea Cup hosts many parties, especially birthdays. What can a birthday gal expect?
Haley: They are a lot of fun. We read excerpts from the book, we do face paintings, and we sing songs. We tailor it to the child, though. We’ve had tea readers come in, as well as tarot readers. On the table, we have the Mad Hatter tea stand, which has assorted sandwiches, scones, cookies and they have a tea party.
There have been so many versions of Alice In Wonderland. Which has been your favorite?
Lauren: There was a TV version from 1999 with Tina Majorino in it that I loved. I liked it because it was trippy.
Haley: Yes, it didn’t adulterate the book too much.
Lauren: We’re purists in that way, too. We like the story to be told the same way as in the book, but visually, they can go to town.
Now as two sisters, how is it working together?
Lauren: We love it. I think the key is communicating. We’re completely different, but knowing each other so well, we’re tolerant of each other’s differences.
So there’s no “Off with her head!” going on here, then?
Haley: [laughs] No, but we speak to each other as only sisters can.
Lauren: But I think that’s a testament to our parents and how we grew up. We were raised in a very honest household where you could say anything.
What are your plans for the future?
Haley: We are planning to expand but in a major way. We’re toying with the idea of working with a hotel, because Alice’s Tea Cup is child-friendly, but it’s not a children’s place. Most people are traveling with
their kids, so it could be a fun place to bring their children.
How do you balance work and family life?
Haley: I have two children, and it’s constant scheduling. You never know what the day is going to bring you, which is exciting. We have great managers here, so there is a bit of flexibility.
What is your favorite tea?
Lauren: I’m partial to black tea, straight black tea. I don’t like flavored teas. I’m a purist in that respect; I don’t like flavors in my coffee or teas. I drink a Sri Lankan tea that we carry called New Vithanakanda;
I love it because it has such a rich flavor without being so strong.
Haley: We have a tea called Mauritius; it has a vanilla essence. It’s a very fine but very strong tea.
What would you recommend to someone who is looking to try a new flavor?
Lauren: I would recommend Rooibos Phoenix. It has honey and caramel and vanilla. It’s a red tea and it’s very high in antioxidants.
Oooh, sounds yummy. And what would you recommend for little Alice’s Tea Cup guests to drink?
Lauren: By far, our most popular is Berry Bunch Fruit Tisane. It’s mixed with dry berries and it has hibiscus in it so it’s sweet. Plus, it steeps pink, which is fun. Every little girl loves pink tea!