Owner Lisa Binzoni closed her cozy shop in mid-March to comply with the lockdown orders issued by the governor and county health officials. The ensuing months allowed her time away from the day-to-day routine to consider whether the season for the English Rose had come to an end and to seek God in prayer.
In our conversation this week, she made it clear that the decision was not COVID-19 driven or related—it was time for a new season of life.
“For 16 years God has been so faithful in every respect. I’ve never had to advertise and I never advertised for employees,” she said. “I am not closing because of any financial hardship or because of COVID. I am closing because it’s really the right time in my personal life. My husband retired; my son and his wife are expecting twins any week now and my daughter, Jessica, having her non-profit in Northern Iraq and I want to go and visit her and her new husband.”
She opened the business 16 years ago after God led her to establish the tea room and operate it as a ministry in addition to a classic tea experience.
“At every seating, we always offered our customers prayer and we had a sign on the door saying prayer available here. People would regularly walk through the door and ask for prayer. We had people calling on the phone for prayer, so we had a real prayer ministry and we saw God do amazing things for 16 years,” she said. Another sign on the wall says, “To God be the glory.”
Over the years, she employed more than 100 people. She made a point about how grateful she was for her team and their contributions.
Lisa and her team offered three seatings per day for up to 34 patrons (1:45 minutes each) and expanded that to four seatings during busy seasons such as December; in February around Valentine’s Day and in May around Mother’s Day. In addition, they routinely established monthly themes such as springtime in Paris or summer in Tuscany or Princess month. They’d adjust the menu to match the theme.
As the business grew over the years, she said they routinely saw customers return for a special occasion such as birthdays or at Christmastime or Mother’s Day. For a small local tea room (one of only two or three in the East Bay), she described an amazingly wide circle of clients—stretching across California and beyond.
“Every day it was like we were coming to a party. It was very festive among the people who came in. Some people would book a reservation every month so they could try a new venue each month,” she said.
One delight for her and her team was both the geographic and ethnic diversity in her clientele.
“Customers would have people come in from out-of-town or out-of-the-country and then would bring them in. People from China, India, Europe and all over the world. It was so wonderful to see different nationalities. We would get people from everywhere.”
She said they had many regular customers who live in San Francisco. They also served private events for businesses to host their clients or do training sessions for their teams.
The loyal clientele with a very big drive circle benefited downtown Pleasanton as well as the English Rose. People would drive in for the tea room experience and then spend time shopping in other downtown businesses and perhaps enjoying a meal before heading home.
Lisa has reached an agreement with another person to purchase the assets and furnishings of her business and assume her lease. She will retain the English Rose name.
Looking back at 16 years of celebrations, she said, “I leave with just a lot of gratitude and beautiful memories. Everything comes to a close, and it just is the right time for me personally as I am ready to be a grandmother. I leave just so happy and grateful. I feel like I was so abundantly blessed.”