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High time for tea at Grey Gables

By Celina Ip


Tea lovers can now enjoy a little slice of England with afternoon tea at Grey Gables Inn.


Since taking over ownership of the Dunlop family’s historic manor (at 353 MacKay St.) on May 16, Lisa and Rigo Borquez have invested lots of passion and love to turn it into a quaint spot for not only ‘bed and breakfast’ but also afternoon tea.

Upon entering the Grey Gables Inn, guests receive a warm welcome and may feel as though they’ve travelled back in time to the high-class Victorian era through the new decor that Lisa and Rigo added throughout.

The elegant and spacious manor is decorated with bronze statues, tin ceilings, crystal chandeliers, beautiful antique furniture and unique touches.

A few weeks after taking over ownership of the Grey Gables, around the first weekend of July, Lisa and her husband decided to open up a tea room to serve afternoon tea in the manor’s historic library.

“This room was the former library of the Dunlops and I thought what an amazing place to create a tea room. It’s basically tea and books, what a great fit,” said Lisa. “And with the style of the manor, we thought how appropriate it would be to have an actual authentic tea room.”

Fittingly named The Victorian Tea Room, the room features stunning decor that is modelled after the look and feel of traditional tea rooms you’d find in England.

Tea room guests will notice the beauty in the details, extending from the elegant paintings on the walls, the collection of literature in the book cases and the beautiful variety of porcelain plates, tea pots and tea cups neatly placed on the Victorian-style tables.

Many of the vintage cups were collected by the Borquez couple through their travels over the years, others were donated by local residents who were so pleased to hear the news about Pembroke’s new tea room that they decided to offer up their cups in a show of appreciation and support.

“What's really lovely about Pembroke is that quite a few of the ladies in town are so excited that this tea room is here that many have given us their own tea cups because they wanted them to be here,” said Lisa.

The tea room’s sumptuous menu is newly adapted each month, featuring a variety of British-style scones, pastries, cookies, finger sandwiches, salads and soups. Among the teas, black is the focus, with some green and herbal teas to round out the selection.

“One of the interesting things is that since opening up the tea room, we've had many women come forward who are in their late 90s and one who was celebrating her 103rd birthday. This lady was telling us how she had actually worked here back when the Dunlops lived here and I thought it was just lovely that she was able to come back and enjoy those memories,” said Lisa. “She said that the Dunlops were very kind people and that she was treated extremely well. So I'm hoping that over time, some people might be able to share some old memories and photos of this manor. We’d love to have old photos that we could place on the walls to maintain its history.”

While enjoying their meal, guests will also be able to support the Child Poverty Action Network (CPAN). Grey Gables Inn has partnered with the local charity to raise funds for their Tools for School and Operation Snowsuit programs. Guests will have the opportunity to support the meaningful work of CPAN by giving back in one simple way: wearing a fancy hat for afternoon tea. With a wide selection of Victorian-styled hats and fascinators, guests will donate $5 to sport the fancy headwear, with all proceeds benefiting CPAN.

“We brought the hats in about two weeks ago and have already raised close to $500 in only that short period of time. Our goal, hopefully between now and December, is to hit $20,000,” said Lisa.

For those looking to step back into the Victorian era to enjoy a true English-style high tea experience in Pembroke, with the opportunity to support a local charity, Lisa and Rigo welcome all to pay a visit to Grey Gables Inn and their Victorian Tea Room.

The tea room is open on Friday to Sunday, with reservation required. The room can also be booked for private or public functions, by calling 613-703-2316. 

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