Monday, September 10, 2018

A New Chapter In My Tea Journey

As you know, I only posted twice last week, and you may have wondered what was going on in my little corner of the world. For those who aren't friends with me on Facebook, here's the explanation: I have a new job!

In February 2007, The Whitney restaurant in Detroit was purchased by Arthur [Bud] Liebler, and reopened under his ownership four months later.

In September 2007, I went with a friend for lunch and was seated at the table pictured below in the beautiful music room.  

The 52-room mansion, built in 1894 for lumber baron David Whitney, Jr., is awesome.  The tapestries in the music room are not original but are similar to the originals.

Original leaded glass windows.

Aspiring to put my tea knowledge to use in the hospitality industry, I commented to my friend, "Wouldn't it be wonderful to work here as their Tea Director?"  They needed one - their tea was served in a small stainless steel teapot placed on a doily-lined plate accompanied with a lemon wedge.  So far so good, but it went downhill from there because inside the teapot was a generic tea bag [made from fannings] from King Coffee, priced at $1.50 on the menu.

That's when my communications with The Whitney first began.  I wrote to Mr. Liebler and all three General Managers who held that position from 2007 thru 2012, but the Tea Director position was filled internally with servers and banquet managers.  A great tea program just didn't seem to be high on their priority list, so I ceased my pursuit to work there.  

This past June I learned their Tea Director was no longer with them, so I decided to make one last attempt.  I sent my letter and waited.  As time passed I began to think it was another futile attempt, until I received an e-mail from the Director of Operations on August 20th.  An appointment was scheduled to meet with him on August 27th, I attended an orientation on August 28th, and began work as their Tea Director on September 5th.  My dream finally came true!

The teacups used for Afternoon Tea are stored on the shelves where the music used to be kept [pictured below].  

The Whitney Mansion [below] viewed from across Woodward Avenue.  It is such a privilege to be a part of this historic restaurant that is one of Detroit's 'crown jewels'.   

If you've followed my blog for any length of time you know I've done many presentations about J.L. Hudson, and his magnificent department store. I found the historic connection between David Whitney, Jr. and J.L. Hudson very interesting.  I'll share with you what I posted on Facebook: 

"In 2015 I was privileged to coordinate a fundraiser tea in J.L. Hudson's former home on East Boston Blvd. 

In 1889 J.L. Hudson borrowed $242,000 from his friend, David Whitney, Jr., to purchase the property at Gratiot and Farmer for his new 8-story department store [which expanded greatly over the years].  

Now I'm privileged to serve tea in Mr. Whitney's former home.  My designated tea storage area is a large closet in Mr. Whitney's bedroom.  How cool is that!  If tea is the only thing in his closet after he expired, he lived an upright life!"  ;-)

Local readers, I hope you'll come visit me for Afternoon Tea from 2:00 - 3:30 p.m.  I'll be there Monday thru Friday.  Afternoon Tea is $34.95 per person [tax and tip excluded] and reservations are required [313-832-5700].  

I'll continue to keep in touch on my blog, but my posts won't be as frequent as they used to be.  Thank you for understanding.


  1. I will miss your blogs, but I certainly will be planning a road trip! Congratulations.

  2. I am so thrilled that they finally saw the light and hired you to be their Tea Director! I love the shelves of teacups. And I'm sure the quality of their tea offering has improved substantially under your leadership. We certainly understand that your posts will be less frequent but look forward to reading them as they occur. Hugs and congratulations!

  3. What an inspiring place to work! A dream come true for you!

  4. Hi Phyllis,
    This is wonderful news. You will do a great job with all your experience! Hope to have tea at the Whitney soon. Congratulations, Laura Lee

  5. Congratulations!! I do hope some of your posts will share some of your duties as tea director. There is no place local to have tea so it would be cery enlightening!

  6. Congratulations Phyllis! We were just at Hopcat Saturday night for dinner with our kids who came from U of M before they went to a concert. We said we need to go to the Whitney for dinner too! The house is an amazing beacon on the street, so preserved in time against its changing surroundings! Again, congratulations!

  7. I am so happy for you! You have so much talent to share, along with your abundance tea knowledge and graciousness! God bless you along this journey!
    Hugs, Nancy

  8. I am so happy for you. I live in northwest Ohio and have enjoyed your tea adventures, especially the local ones. I would not have been to places like Governor Croswell if not for you. I must now start planning a trip to The Whitney. Best wishes on your new position!

  9. How interesting. Must be a dream come true. What a beautiful, beautiful place to do something you love. Wish I was closer. Best of luck!


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