southtownstar
CHARMING 
Weather Updates

Civility by the cup? Homewood woman opening tea shop with ‘garden-like’ setting

Terre Robertsowner CiviliteGardens Homewood displays some baked goods. She plans open her shop early next year after renovations are completed

Terre Robertson, owner of Civilitea Gardens in Homewood, displays some baked goods. She plans to open her shop early next year after renovations are completed and has been leasing the space this month as a "pop-up" shop. | Supplied photo

storyidforme: 59412123
tmspicid: 21718088
fileheaderid: 10242129
Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: January 2, 2014 1:18PM



Terre Robertson plans to bring a little civility to her hometown of Homewood in 2014 when she opens Civilitea Gardens, a small, cafe-style tea shop, at 2025 Ridge Road.

“Civility is something I find is lacking in everyday life,” said Robertson, 62. “We’re so 24/7 ... that common courtesies are disappearing. I wanted some place you could come with your child, you could come with your mother, you could come with your book club and just sit and read books and have some lovely warm drinks and some very healthy food products.”

Robertson’s menu plans are to offer hot and cold teas, baked goods, finger sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, breads and vegetarian-based salads made with organic produce. She said all of her items will be organic, fair-trade products and some will be kosher. She plans to offer low-sodium, nondairy and vegan items, catering to those with food allergies through her specialty menu and making her establishment a kid-friendly place, she said.

Robertson has had her eye on the corner building at Ridge Road and Martin Avenue since 2011 when the Super Loot store there closed.

“I thought it was such a nice little shop; what a shame it’s gone,” Robertson said. When no other attempt to open a business at the site succeeded, Robertson decided to make a move after an especially “bad day” at work.

When she spoke to the building’s agent, Stephen Berezin, with Keller Williams, Berezin said a tea shop was “just what the village (is) looking for.”

Robertson said her vision for the 850-square-foot store is to make customers feel as if they are in an outdoor garden, complete with fresh flowers and pots of herbs and seasonal plants growing in the windows, a trellis and a park bench. Robertson plans to add outdoor seating on Martin Avenue during warm-weather months.

Robertson has been a fan of tea since her days as an archaeology student at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, a place “colder than Chicago,” she said.

“I quickly learned that tea did a lot to warm your body, your spirits and soothe your soul,” Robertson said.

She plans to offer that comfort to early-morning commuters who need a carryout at 6:30 a.m. on weekdays, remaining open until 3 p.m. for those who want breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea in a calm, garden-like atmosphere.

Weekend hours will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Robertson said she will add evening hours if there is a demand.

Robertson, who is using her personal savings to fund her new business, was the first business owner to benefit from the village’s recently approved Downtown Business Incentive Program to provide funds from a special taxing district for businesses in areas not within that district. The village board approved a $25,000 grant under the Façade & Property Improvement Guidelines.

She is facing about $100,000 in renovations. The building needs a rest room that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, plus plumbing and electrical work, and a grease trap, among other health and sanitation requirements.

Robertson said she is “honored” to be the first recipient of funding as a business in a non-TIF district area and grateful to the village of Homewood.

“It makes the dream easier to achieve,” she said.

Robertson plans to begin renovations in January and open as soon as possible, she said.

“I’m at a crossroads in my life where I can continue working downtown for the next six or seven years and maybe live to be 70, or I can do something I’ve always wanted to do and maybe live to be 85 or 90,” Robertson said.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.