Fun, Food & Family Time

Modern day to day life can make fitting in quality family time hard. It’s increasingly common for both parents to work and quite often the children have just as busy a schedule as mum and dad. However, with Mother’s Day, Pancake day and the Easter Holidays on the horizon, Spring is full of opportunities to get everyone together. Sara Welton, owner of Sara’s Tea Garden, is a mother of 6 and knows all to well how difficult this can be.

“In our very busy lives it is so easy to lose sight of time spent with our families. Meal times are an ideal way to spend time together. At the Tea Garden we often host large family gatherings for birthdays or anniversaries. It’s so lovely to see everyone laughing and spending precious moments together. One thing I’ve learnt as a mother is to cherish every moment.”

For families with very young children, the thought of eating out somewhere can be very daunting. The ever-imminent threat of a tantrum, followed by judgmental looks from other diners can be a huge source of anxiety. Having experienced this herself, Sara puts families and their needs at the heart of her business.

“Parents like to know that, when visiting us, their children will be made to feel welcome. We offer high chairs for little ones who need them and, although we try not to encourage buggies inside due to the size, we will allow them where possible. We have a kid’s menu – this is very popular – as are the colouring books and pencils we give to the children whilst they are waiting for their food to arrive. I do encourage my staff to interact with the children, we find this makes the whole family feel more at ease.”

When Sara says ‘the whole family’ she really means it, even fur-babies are welcome here. She says, “Being a dog owner of two adorable golden retrievers (Darcy and Dolly) and a lifelong dog lover, this was very high on my list of priorities.

Dogs are a great part of family life and having a place to visit after a walk is so important both to the owner and the dogs. Every dog gets their own bowl of water and dog biscuits on arrival. We also have dog sausages and homemade dog treats available for their owners to buy, with all the proceeds going to Guide Dog for the Blind – a charity very close to my heart. As well as giving our human customers loyalty cards, we give the dogs one too. 5 stamps gives them a free sausage and a completed card equals a doggie goodie bag. Can’t be more spoilt than that!”

“Our Doggie Gallery has gotten really popular. People send pictures of their dogs to be put onto the website gallery and each month we have a dog of the month. The owner wins a £10 voucher and, of course, a little something for the dog. We currently have 160 entries but in my eyes they are all winners.”

The importance of family is equally central to Sara’s personal life. Her fondest memories include days spent at her parents’ beach hut in Thorpe Bay,

“We had so much fun there spending endless hours playing on the mud, diving off the breakwaters, making dens with the wind breaks and deck chairs. On days when the sun wasn’t shining we would drink hot chocolate snuggled in heaps of towels, but it was still great fun to be there. This carried from my childhood through to my children’s childhoods. The beach hut was kept in the family and we kept on the tradition. Walking out to the Mulberry Harbour with the dogs was an all time favourite. We would end the day with a barbecue back at the hut. It was simply perfect just sitting, watching the sun go down.”

“The love of my family is such a great place to build anything from. I was always taught this by my dear parents (who are now 90 and 89 years old). I have 6 children, all of which have worked with me at the garden at some point, and my youngest two, twins Grace and Beth, still work with me. Also my partner of 4 years Steve; my rock and my sole mate. His support of me and my business never wavers and nothing is ever too much trouble. He really is one in a million. So, as you can see, it really is a family run business. I feel that this creates a warm and friendly atmosphere for families to visit – extending our family love to all our customers.”

On the weekend of the 7th May, Sara’s Tea Garden will host an event to celebrate it’s 10th anniversary. More information will be available soon via the website and Facebook page.

Sara’s Tea Garden
64 High Street
Leigh-on-Sea
Essex
SS9 2EP
T: 01702 477315
www.sarasteagardens.co.uk

 

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