A Stop at The Coventry Tea Room

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Oct 02, 2010

"You can observe a lot just by watching."
Yogi Berra

On a steamy, hot summer day we were on our way to Lancaster County on Route 23 when Evie and I stopped at a little place to eat for lunch called The Coventry Tea Room. We had often driven by it and, actually, Evie had been there several times but this was the first time for me. 

We noticed that many others had the same idea as we parked our car in a crowded parking lot. Beautiful flowers in the peak of their summer blooms were everywhere. From the outside, the very old structure looked more like a house than a restaurant. Across the entrance of the door was a quaint sign that read, "Coventry Tea Room." We walked through a small dining room or two on our way to the last one where we were seated at our table for two. 

The moment we sat down we drank in the charm. On each table were fresh flowers (ours were African violets) planted in different kinds of porcelain pots. Though all of the tables had the same maroon tablecloths, each container for sugar was unique to each table. Every window was framed in white lace curtains and every windowsill was lined with more fresh flowers planted in all different kinds of pots. And every room was filled with an amazing collection of colorful tea pots. 

The ambiance was not missed on the other guests. All around us the lively conversations informed us that everyone else really loved that Coventry Tea Room, particularly that table of nine women to our immediate left whose spirited exchange still makes us smile. Shortly after we arrived we were surprised to see some familiar friends. Dick Kunsch and several of his colleagues from Phoenixville Federal Bank and Trust had come in and were seated to our right on the other side of a divider with an open window. 

We opened our menus and the first words we read were, "Welcome to the Coventry Tea Room Restaurant. We want you to enjoy this dining experience." By then I already knew why Evie wanted to bring me there. 

I turned the menu over and found a narrative of the history of the restaurant. The present site was part of a 5,000 acre parcel owned by William Penn eventually passed on to several owners including Samuel Nutt until Samuel Savage received it. 

Benjamin Franklin was a close friend and was entertained by the Nutt family. George Whitfield came to preach to the ironworkers in Coventry. Hearing that the ironworkers intended to give Whitfield a rough welcome, Rebecca Nutt stood beside him while he preached, "Thus disarmed, it is said that the men listened and wept with the power of his oration." Rebecca dedicated herself to the Lord and joined the Methodist Church in Coventryville. 

The restaurant building was constructed around 1790 and likely stood while Whitfield preached in the area. It was at first a colonial farmhouse and possibly a stop on the Underground Railroad. Later it became a doctor's office and in 1964 the Frederick family purchased the estate and lived there for 13 years. The Tea Room was opened in 1977 and new owners purchased it in 2003. 

But now back to the menu. Evie recommended "The Tea Room Sampler" with "three fresh tea room sandwiches, including chicken salad, egg salad, ham and cheese served with homemade zucchini bread and coleslaw." What a delicious lunch it was. We just had to top it off with dessert: Profiteroles...three small pastries, filled with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with chocolate. 

How can I ever describe such a delightful lunch: great food; great ambiance; even great friends in the table next to us. And as we paid our bill and walked out into the beautiful summer day to resume our trip to Lancaster County, we agreed that we would return. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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