tea@Hart began as a mix of a family hobby and a cottage industry
We opened on tea@Hart on 8th December 2014 on a tight budget, having just four weeks from signing a lease to having to welcome customers (and raising some capital by selling games in a gazebo amongst piles of tools and paint). Our first customers will remember games nights upstairs, playing on folding tables with bedsheets disguising the crumbling walls. It’s impossible to say how much we owe to those early customers who sat through paper plates, fan heaters, and cramped conditions!
The next two years required many late nights knocking down walls and fitting kitchens- and the work hasn’t finished yet, as we endeavour to create an atmosphere that matches the warmth of the community and the quality of the food and drink.
But the story really begins with a family who enjoyed playing games, and Jeni’s baking hobby that soon grew too large to fit around her day job. Sometime around 2012, having talked to friends and being introduced to tabletop, a whole new world of gaming opened up to the Harts! At the same time, Jeni began moving from making cakes for family and friends to tentatively beginning a business with cupcakes and celebration cakes, under the name ‘Jeni Made Cakes‘. When the time came to decide to move the business to a full-time position Jeni decided to combine the baking with the gaming hobby (juxtaposed with a community-worker’s motivation to ‘bring people together’ at a time when many community building initiatives face decline).
Then we added a further passion: tea. Thus ‘tea@Hart’ was born!
The story doesn’t end here – opening a business on a budget makes a slow, hard slog towards fulfilling a vision of a local business, supporting other local businesses, that Hartlepool can be proud of!