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Meet Damian Orozco of The Tea House on Los Rios

Today we’d like to introduce you to Damian Orozco.

Damian, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My grandparents, Allan and Claudia Niccola, started The Tea House over 20 years ago in a 1911 abandoned cottage on Los Rios Street, the oldest residential neighborhood in all of California. They loved the concept of taking tea, where you can reconnect with friends and family while getting away from the stresses of everyday life. They found it refreshing in our hustle and bustle society, so they decided to open up a place for high tea. It took over two years to restore the cottage (most of which we did as a family), plant gardens, come up with a menu, and open their doors.

While my grandparents opened this in their late fifties, I was just ten years old at the time. I helped lay a 110-year-old brick walkway, washed dishes, bussed tables and eventually became a server in high school and college. I decided the “family business” wasn’t for me, as much as I loved the hospitality aspect of it – I wanted an office job where I could count on a steady paycheck and have good benefits. I graduated from college with an accounting degree, joined a major CPA firm, and moved up the ranks… but something was missing.

I longed for the restaurant industry, the ambiance of Los Rios Street, the idea of taking tea. So I left the corporate world and came back to my roots and take over The Tea House on Los Rios. In addition to truly finding my calling, I am able to carry on my family’s legacy of a place that so many hold near and dear to their hearts. It has been an exciting two and a half years since I’ve taken over – while keeping the heart and soul the same, we’ve been able to grow our business more than double, which is so exciting for us all to see.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Owning and operating your own small business is never an easy road, but it is very rewarding. I am often not only the front of house manager, but depending on what is needed, I can be washing dishes, decorating a cake, filing sales taxes, and serving tables.

While we have grown a great amount over the past couple of years, there is still room for growth, and to grow takes money. Sometimes at the end of the day, it’s nice that we can pay all of the bills and staff, but it can leave very little room for that addition that will provide more seating or repairing a big piece of equipment (I’m looking at you, walk-in freezer!).

I know that with continued growth, we will be able to hire more staff and reinvest into the property that creates a really special ambiance.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We specialize in Afternoon Tea, a concept that we, as Americans, don’t traditionally do. Our guests get to enjoy loose leaf teas in mismatched china, our famous scones with raspberry preserves and our Early California Cream, a wide variety of delightful finger sandwiches, and fun desserts.

We also have other food here too – a weekend brunch has become a favorite lately (complete with mimosas and Bloody Mary’s), as well as our entrée salads and hot entrees. As we are in a restored cottage, we have several different rooms inside, but my favorite place is our wraparound verandah that looks out onto the gardens.

The ambiance of The Tea House on Los Rios is unmatched – the historic district that we’re in is unlike any other place, and after dining with us, our guests get to stroll along the street that has a lot of very cute gift shops and galleries. We are also walking distance to the Mission, as well as the train depot.

I love the fact that we are a family owned and operated company, and that we have been able to grow due to our love for this business, and I think it carries through to each customer. It’s also fun because people who join us are usually celebrating something – we host a lot of bridal and baby showers, birthdays and anniversaries – so it is amazing to be a part of those special moments with people.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in a tight-knit family, and we had a lot of fun together. As an only child (until the age of 15), I connected more with adults than I did with kids my own age, so I spent more time at the restaurant and working with my family.

As I got older, I really enjoyed hosting events for people, having friends over for dinner, and I knew that I wanted to do something in regards to the hospitality business, but wasn’t sure how I would make money at it.

That is why I pursued a degree in accounting and went into the public accounting world for seven years before returning to take over The Tea House. I will say, that degree is well used in business, and has definitely helped me understand how to budget.

Pricing:

  • Brunch Entrees – from $14.95 to $19.95
  • Tea Experiences – from $18.95 to $42.95
  • Entrees – from $16.95 – $32.95

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Jenice Keeler

    March 21, 2019 at 03:18

    My daughter and I have our Christmas tea here every year. Always come for just the food and ambiance. Service is great. Always made to feel welcome.

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