Walking into Coffee, Teas, and Thee in downtown York feels very much like stopping by Grandma’s house for lunch.
If the smell of baked goods coming from the kitchen doesn’t draw you in, a greeting from 70-year-old owner Mary Malott, who lives upstairs, will instantly make you feel at home.
When I visited on a recent Wednesday, the restaurant atmosphere wasn’t immediately apparent. Malott’s old family photographs decorated the walls, and a hallway led to a family dining room set up with a table for 10.
It wasn’t until I reached the main seating area that Malott’s homey décor transitioned into a bright tea room.
Up until January of 2012, opening a tea room had never crossed Malott’s mind, she said. But when the idea came to her in a dream, she didn’t stop working toward her new goal until she opened Coffee, Teas, and Thee on South Pershing Avenue on Jan. 15, 2014.
Malott instructed me to sit anywhere, so I sat at a table in the corner with a full view of the small tea room.
The walls were adorned with floral paintings and tea cup displays, and flower pots hung above two windows that looked out onto South Pershing Avenue.
Five tables, which seat 15 people, not including the 10-person dining room table reserved for large parties, sat in the center of the room. The tables were topped with red and white tablecloths, doilies with red hearts and a vase of artificial roses, even though Valentine’s Day had passed.
But it didn't feel like a place you have to come with a date.
The low-priced menu and selection of soups, salads and tea sandwiches make Coffee, Teas, and Thee a great spot for a lunch break with co-workers or high tea with friends.
Based on a recommendation from Malott, I ordered soup and a sandwich – her most popular combination during the winter months – for $6.
A small mug of homemade black bean soup topped with onions and parsley arrived a few minutes later, quickly followed by a chicken salad sandwich cut into quadrants.
The ham and green onions gave the soup a nice flavor and warmed my stomach on a chilly winter afternoon. And cranberries added a nice touch to the chicken salad sandwich, which can be ordered with or without the crust.
I was tempted by the desserts, but instead decided to order a Black Cherry Berry tea to go from a list of about 15 choices.
Coffee, Teas, and Thee’s rotating menu also includes tossed salads, breads, scones and desserts, ranging from cookies to chocolate cake to chocolate-cherry delight. High tea – which is served with a salad, bread, soup, sandwich and dessert – can be purchased for $22. Reservations are required for parties of three or more.
For the first time, the tea room will also participate in Restaurant Week York this year, serving your choice of two items (soup, salad or sandwich) for $5 during operating hours Feb. 20-27.
What sets Coffee, Teas and Thee apart from other eateries is the way Malott makes an effort to get to know her customers. As I was finishing my meal, she came over to my table, asked for my name and if I had any prayer intentions.
She prayed with me at the table and left a printed Bible verse with my check.
I watched her do the same with another customer, who she remembered from a previous visit.
As I left, walking past the wall of old family photos, Malott smiled at me and said, “Goodbye, Abbey.”
I remember thinking, the next time I come back, it really will feel like returning home.
Coffee, Teas, and Thee
Location: 15 S. Pershing Ave., downtown York
Cuisine: Soup, salads, sandwiches
Abbey’s pick: Cup of black bean soup, $2.50; chicken salad sandwich, $3.50; black cherry berry tea, $2
Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Price range: $1.50, small coffee/tea; $3.50 sandwich; $22 high tea
Accepts: Cash and credit
Kid’s menu: No
Details: Call 717-854-3669 or visit facebook.com/yorktearoom.