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Serendipity is a charming tea room that offers a nostalgic experience, from their fabulous decor, cool music, homemade fayre to their interesting activities and events.

10 Frederick Street

Opening Hours:
Monday — Saturday — 10.00am — 4.00pm
Sunday — Private parties, functions and special events (Shhh.... Secret Sundays)


What inspired you to launch this as your business?

I was following a childhood dream, I had always wanted to run my own business and was always drawn to the idea of a tea room that would not only produce great homemade food but would also run events, crafts and activities within the local community. I hoped to offer something different and high quality after being constantly disappointed with the generic eateries around and the lack of interesting events/activities available. I am hoping to also keep some of the old crafts going such as knitting, crocheting and sewing by running classes in my tea room. At the age of 48 I knew it was now or never and decided to follow the dream. Thanks goodness!


What drew you to "vintage"?

I have always been interested in anything with a past or a story; I have never really been a fan of the contemporary style and have always searched for interesting objects rather than fashionable ones. When designing my business I wanted to get as far away as possible from the generic style of the multinational chain coffee houses. I wanted to create an establishment with personality, style and flair and to give customers a memorable nostalgic experience.


Where do the majority of your customers come from?

We have a really mixed clientele, from local office workers who pop in for lunch to retired ladies who like to come for afternoon tea, we have also gained a following from a very young crowd who have discovered and appreciate the vintage vibe and style and love the sense of nostalgia we create from the decor to the music we play.


What is the most popular era or types of goods of those you sell in your shop?

The shop has a dominant Kitsch 1950's retro feel but is very eclectic incorporating influences from the 1940's onwards. Many of the items used in the shop from our tables and chairs, light fittings to the units for display are a mix of vintage and new, many items have been up-cycled by us. Lots of the items we use in the shop such as vintage china, tablecloths, display items are donated by our customers, we offer vouchers for cream teas for people to recycle their old china. The Serendipity retirement home for china!


Do you also sell online?

At the moment we sell only gift vouchers online but hoping to add our speciality locally themed teas and gluten free products in the future as well as taking bookings online.


What has been the highlight for your business over the past year?

Highlights would include achieving:

  • Regional Award — "Young business of the year" from the local newspapers business awards — "Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards"
  • National Award — runner up — "Events Provider in a food establishment! — "What's on 4 me"
  • Accolades from prestigious companies such as Saga Magazine — highlighted as one of the most unique places to visit for champagne afternoon tea
  • The culture Trip — One of the top 10 eateries in Sunderland (from 322)
  • Finally launching our craft based activity and event days- "Shhh... Secret Sundays" — an example of the classes/events we run are as follows:
  • Bunting and Brunch — A morning making bunting followed by delicious homemade brunch
  • Matinees and Mocktails — an afternoon with the girls watching a Vintage style film with mocktails (or cocktails)
  • Afternoon Tease — Afternoon tea combined with a burlesque master class and show
  • One of my favourite personal highlights was from a very old lady customer who informed me that my homemade scones were the best she had ever tasted and this was a lady who told me she had taken afternoon tea in many fine establishments throughout the world! Happy days..


    How would you like to see your business grow & the Vintage Industry develop over the
    coming year(s)?

    Future plans for my business include being involved in organising larger events such as tea dances, vintage afternoon tea parties and entering into the wedding market. Skeleton plans are in place to organise my first event. I have seen the vintage industry expand over the 3 years I have been in business, I was the first business of my type to open in my home town of Sunderland, now there are several similar such businesses, although maybe a bit put out at first if I am being honest it can only be a good thing in the long run, Customers deserve great service and products and I love to see the rise of independent businesses displaying their creativity,
    The vintage industry is very varied and I am loving seeing the 1970's vibe develop in music and in fashion and style, there is so much of the past that was fantastic, it's great to revisit it again.


    Anything else you'd like to add?

    When I opened my shop over 3 years ago it was not only to follow my dream but to fill a gap in the market, to offer something different from the chain coffee shops, something with personality and real food, on my travels in my old job as a sales representative, many coffee shop stops included pre packed/made sandwiches and tea from a paper cup, cakes bought in from wholesalers and preformed meat/chicken in sandwiches. I was on a mission to provide all homemade food, we have achieved that making all of our own cakes, soups, sandwich fillings and using local suppliers to provide the rest, we keep our custom local to help the local economy plus that's how it used to be! As a child I was taught to knit and sew and cook, many of these basic skills are being lost and I am passionate about bringing them back through our craft and activity classes. I am now pleased to say that many others have followed suit, since the opening of my shop many other similar businesses have followed through with the vintage vibe, although a little put out at first that people have used my ideas, it has to be a good thing and is producing what I originally set out to do, offer quality and choices to everyone. I took a huge risk setting up my business, leaving a well paid corporate career to earn but I couldn't be happier, I love my business and so happy I took those steps, I also think that shines through to our customers. I have brought a little bit of vintage and nostalgia to my hometown and that makes me happy.


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