When Jo Gemmill moved from England to the United States, she wanted to share her heritage with Americans to ease her homesickness.
Sixteen years ago, she founded the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree, serving scones and crumpets, cottage pie, Ploughman’s lunches and more than 50 loose-leaf teas.
“I lived in Seattle for three years, before we moved to Arizona,” Gemmill says about she and her husband. “My grandfather was a Coldstream Guard at Buckingham Palace. I wanted to replicate some of the things I missed to get over this homesickness. Plus, I couldn’t find a cup of tea. Arizona Ice Tea isn’t my thing.”
Instead, she serves formal afternoon tea, cucumber sandwiches, smoked salmon, scones, and cream imported from Devon, England. An in-house chef creates the pastries, like macarons and Victoria sponge cake.
“If you’ve been to England and love the pubs, we do good home cooking-style pub food like cottage pie and beans on toast,” she says.
Open seven days a week, English Rose Tea Room is Gemmill’s way of spreading news about her home country as well.
“I wanted to keep in touch with what’s going on with the royal family,” she says. “American TV just shows everything political and everything going on with America. I have to read BBC world news on my iPhone.
“I figured if I was going to make this an English tea room, there was definitely going to have a connection to the royal family. I have a cardboard cutout of the queen that has been photographed thousands of times.”
So, naturally, Gemmill will celebrate Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s Saturday, May 9, wedding with a party from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The $60 ticket price comes with wedding cake, a formal afternoon tea, souvenirs, and British pop and pageantry. Guests should dress as if they were attending the wedding.
“We record the royal wedding and we play it throughout the day,” Gemmill says. “It’s on at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. Arizona time. They’re getting married early because the football finals are on in the afternoon. Brits are going to want to watch football.
“We want people to get dressed up. We’ll have souvenirs people can buy. It’s one of those moments in history where we’ll remember where we were. I want people to feel like they were at the wedding.”
Gemmill feels she made the right decision in opening English Rose Tea Room.
“It’s so appreciated,” Gemmill says. “I’d like to say it’s reciprocal, and the Brits feel the same way about America. Some do, some don’t. We were allies through a couple wars. We’re like kissing cousins.”
English Rose Tea Room, 201 Easy Street, Suite 103, Carefree, 480.488.4812, carefreetea.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.