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The Whole Leaf Magazine Features Samovar Tea Lounge

Samovar Hayes Valley
Samovar Hayes Valley

You can’t take it with you: The not-to-go teahouse model

By Nadine Goff

Below is an excerpt from Nadine Goff’s article, which features Samovar Tea Lounge. Goff writes about tea houses that encourage customers to sit and stay awhile rather than take tea to go. which featured Samovar Tea Lounge.

“… When Jesse Jacobs, owner of San Francisco’s Samovar Tea Lounge, opened his first location in 2001, he thought of teahouses as the tea equivalent of the local coffeehouse, so he offered takeaway service. But he says he soon learned that in order to survive, he needed to change his business model—including eliminating takeaway service. ‘The average person doesn’t know much about tea and needs more knowledge,” he says. “We needed to educate people about tea and value.’

Jacobs notes that it was difficult to persuade customers to pay $3 to $10 for loose-leaf brewed tea in a paper cup when they were comparing the price to a $1.50 tea bag in a paper cup filled with hot water. ‘We needed to create a rich, robust experience to justify the price and bring people back to Samovar,’ he says. One way to do this was to serve tea in an authentic form (loose leaf, properly brewed) to customers who were sitting down. Another way was to educate them about the possibilities for multiple infusions.

In the past three years, Jacobs has opened two more Samovar Tea Lounges in the San Francisco area. Although each location features a different physical structure, they share a similar design aesthetic that Jacobs describes as  ‘slightly Asian with modern functionality.’…”

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