Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014
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Tea time and more

Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:28 PM

Some of the best stories begin and end with a poignant message. And the substance in-between, what is typically introduced as gripping conflicts and a series of events that lead to a resolution, bring home the message that persistence can change most outcomes.

John and Aimee Gans lived a series of events that helped instill a new appreciation for the cliché; don't put off until tomorrow what you can accomplish today.

After weathering a few challenging storms, the couple is no longer interested in waiting to set their passions into motion. Instead, they pushed forward, against the odds, and fulfilled Aimee's life-long dream of opening a tea room.

On Wednesday, Sept. 26, the Tilted Teacup Tea Room & Boutique officially opened on W. Fort Dade Ave. in downtown Brooksville. A quaint tea room experience that caters to a magical storybook allure, the Tilted Teacup is more than just an exciting addition to the downtown cityscape.

"We wanted to do something different," John Gans said.

"And we wanted to capture the tradition," Aimee Gans added.

Indeed, the atmosphere is well embraced in one of Brooksville's older historical homes. The southern charm of the white-railed front porch, with a gently swaying wooden swing and soft wicker patio seating, immediately sets the tone.

Inside, wall-to-wall dark hardwood flooring, high conventional ceilings and old-time décor saturate visitors with the warmth and comfort of deep southern tradition.

Add pretty antique tables for parties of two and four, plush flower-patterned cushions, elegant china, dainty tableware and lace accents and the magic is complete.

But it didn't come easily.

For four months the Gans worked endlessly to mold Aimee's lifelong dream into a viable, realistic reality. They labored tirelessly, scraping and repainting interior walls, restoring pieces of the original hardwood flooring, and beautifying the home's interior charm from a cold, former service company into a fantasy of warmth and comfort.

"We had been preparing for years," John said, describing how they picked up pieces along their travels and stored them away until the time was right.

Then they set out to find the ideal location, considering various strip malls before stumbling on the old house, draped in the shade of an old oak tree.

"It needed some work," Aimee said. "But it had so much potential. And I fell in love with the tree."

John, who is an active duty, 20-year U.S. Army veteran, helped each night and on weekends to get the house in shape. Aimee, who had quit her job as a dental assistant to devote her time to the project, worked without respite every day.

Aimee's passion for tea rooms began as shared moments with her mother and sister. She reminisced about the mother-daughter experiences that helped ground their relationships, sipping tea and nibbling on freshly baked scones while adorned in sweet vintage hats.

"Whenever there was a birthday or something to celebrate, we would find a tea room," she said. Many times she hosted her own tea parties, preparing homemade treats and serving tea in beautiful china.

"I always loved serving people," Aimee added. "I love hospitality."

She envisioned running a tea room one day, complete with vintage décor. But the time was never right.

For 20 years, Aimee had raised a family and nurtured a marriage while working in different professional industries. Like many wives and mothers, her dream was gently set aside. But it wasn't forgotten.

A divorce helped pave a new journey, leading Aimee down a new path and somehow reigniting her dream with an even stronger passion.

Meeting John Gans helped ground her commitment further. He became her lifeline, supporting her ambitions on all levels that mattered.

After a lifetime of working successfully in various endeavors while also struggling through an array of personal triumphs, their union was the inspiration that Aimee needed to take the plunge.

The result is a combination of tea dining, with a variety of 32 different teas, hot or iced, a variety of fresh baked sweets and desserts, tea sandwiches, quiches and homemade soups.

Reservations, Aimee and John said, are preferred, particularly for special events and larger parties. But walk-ins are also welcome.

The tea room can accommodate up to 30 guests and is wheelchair accessible.

Daily specials include pots of tea and an assortment of menu items available for High Tea (including soup, tea sandwiches, quiche, fresh-baked scones with cream, and a selection of desserts served on a 3 tier server with an endless pot of tea); Afternoon Tea (similar to High Tea without the soup); and lighter choices of tea and a dessert or scone.

The Tilted Teacup is more than a tea room, though. The Gans added an arrangement of unique decorative gift ideas like jewelry, homemade aprons, art, seasonal décor, even shoes. Visitors can browse the gifts while waiting for their tea.

The boutique is open an extra hour before and after the tea room's normal operating hours.

The Tilted Teacup Tea Room & Boutique is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The dining room is open for service between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Inquire about parties, celebrations and special events in addition to daily specials.

They run specials regularly. For the fall season, they have scheduled a pumpkin patch during Founders Week, on Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. They are also offering Homecoming specials; reservation only on corresponding Saturdays for each high school at $35 per couple.

A few weeks prior to the tea room opening, the Gans decided to renew their marriage vows.

Under the picturesque "majestic old Oak tree" they officially re-affirmed their new beginning, both as a couple and as committed partners in a beautiful new endeavor.

Biz at a Glance

Name: The Tilted Teacup Tea Room & Boutique

Address: 200 West Fort Dade Ave., Brooksville

Telephone: (352) 593-0747

Website: www.thetiltedteacuptearoom.com

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