Tea & Sympathy, 2019 Village Awardee
For the almost three decades, Tea & Sympathy at 108 Greenwich Avenue has been a fixture in Greenwich Village for greeting, meeting, and eating. Serving tea and traditional British comfort food, this iconic and authentic British eatery is beloved by locals and visited by people from all over the world. In June at Village Preservation’s Annual Meeting and Awards, we will honor this local shop that is so much more than a business.
Tea & Sympathy has been welcoming everyone from (in owner Nicky Perry’s words) “little old ladies to rock stars, and lonely long-time locals to homesick expats.” She serves them all, and says she loves seeing them all become friends. She very much cares for her customers and the community, especially the elderly. Nicky established a program called Dinner for One More to encourage Village elders who may be isolated and alone to have a welcoming place to dine and meet others. Since its opening in 1991, Nicky and her husband Sean have started two other businesses, Carry On Tea & Sympathy and A Salt & Battery, the latter a fish and chips shop.
In the restaurant, the tables are set with traditional flowered china teapots and tea cups with saucers lending to the Old World feel of the place. The walls are lined with photos of the owner’s family and gifts and letters from long time admiring patrons such as the late Dr. Oliver Sachs. Letters signed by the Queen of England and other English memorabilia are delightful to peruse while you’re dining on fare such as Shepherd’s Pie, Coronation (curried) chicken salad sandwiches, Welsh rarebit, ploughman’s lunch, and all manner of delicious cakes and “puddings” doused with crème anglaise.
Nicky and Sean started this business with a gift from Nicky’s Dad. They are great benefactors of many civil and local causes, often donating money, time, or food. They have garnered attention from the media such as the BBC and the London Times, and received accolades from political circles for their advocacy and cultural contributions, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and State Senator Brad Hoylman.