Give 'Em the Sack

Tea Time

What: Tea room for young girls
Who: Tom and Jeanine Trikilis of Olivia's Doll House Tea Room
Where: Newhall, California
When: Started in 1990

Every little girl likes to play dress-up. And Tom and Jeanine Trikilis of Newhall, California, have created a place where young girls can do just that: Olivia's Doll House Tea Room.

Named after one of their daughters, the teahouse was created because the Trikilises wanted their children and their children's friends to have a fun experience at birthdays and other get-togethers. "We went to party places that offered nothing," says Tom, 53. "We wanted something fabulous."

That something fabulous is now a fun, interactive experience for young girls who get to play with dress-up clothes and makeup, sip lemonade and nibble on specially prepared snacks. The teahouses are filled with music boxes, pictures that move and talk, and one-of-a-kind Victorian toys partygoers can play with. Though the general theme is Victorian, the toys span all eras and genres. The staff, in turn, is trained to pin dresses and do makeup to really complete the fairy tale. Says Tom, "It's just incredible, all the cards and letters we get weekly telling us 'Thank you for the best party we've ever had.'"

The response has been so overwhelming that Tom and Jeanine have opened four locations in Southern California, with plans to open more (to be sold as turnkey operations--not franchises--to other entrepreneurs). With sales into the six figures and party waiting lists averaging six months, it's quite a fairy tale indeed.

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This article was originally published in the July 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Give 'Em the Sack.

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