Opening a tea shop can’t be that difficult, right?


Opening a tea shop can’t be that difficult, right?

Opening a tea shop can’t be that difficult, right?

Open a tea shop they said, anybody can do it they told us, the government supports small businesses we heard… Ugh! For anybody who has opened their own small business and had to go through all of the permitting, licensing, bureaucracy, and everything else, I commend you.

The Process:

A few months ago, when we fully committed to opening our first tea cafe in Seattle, we were very excited; but looking back, we were also a little bit nieve. We thought that this was going to be a little paperwork and some money, but what we have come to realize is that it’s, a whole truckload of paperwork, a cargo ship of regulations, a spiders web of agencies and departments, and one big constant headache.

Don’t get me wrong, we are still very excited about finishing this project, this business means a lot to us. I’m writing this post to not only provide an update on our progress but in some ways, release a little stress :). So stick with me.

The Good News:

Believe it or not, we have some good news! The church we are hopefully moving into has received funding to move forward with this project, and some construction has already taken place. Beacon Hill has a brand new roof, thanks to our friend and fellow pastor Juan Amado! We have picked out paint colors and have started painting, and we think we have a good idea of what we are doing when it comes to the building and health dept.

We are currently in talks with an architect and we will all be sitting down with reps from the City of Seattle in about a month to talk about our project. Yes, you heard me, a MONTH. Apparently, it takes forever just to get a simple sit down with building planners all just to install some counters and serve tea. At this point, we will get a simple “yes” or “no” from the city on whether or not this is going to be approved (yes, meaning they are not going to require the old building to be completely updated to meet current code, no meaning we will need to meet current code which will cost way to much money and we will have to scrap this idea).

This is all good news, because whether it is yes or no, we will at least have a definitive answer on Beacon Hill and if it is still the right location to open our cafe. Please pray for us through this process.

The Bad News:

You would think that after a few months of working on this, we would have more to show than hiring contractors for a new roof and painting a little of the inside. Unfortunately, we found out that dealing with the city building dept, health dept, and Agricultural dept is a humungous headache. With all the rules, regulations and BS, I am surprised that anybody even opens a small business. Side note: If anybody has experience opening a small cafe and wants to impart their knowledge on me, shoot me an email and I’ll make time to chat!

Even if finding out yes or no from the city is good news, it could also be bad news for moving forward. If they say that we have to make the building meet current code and we are no longer able to afford to move into Beacon Hill, that just means that we have to find a new location where it will most definitely cost a bundle more money to open our tea cafe, and we will have to start over again. Maybe we will open in a more small business friendly city… just a thought, Tacoma or Des Moines are you listening!

Lactose Intolerant:

On to the last bit of news that really blew my mind and made me think twice about our idea. It turns out that milk is now one of my biggest enemies :(. Our idea for a tea cafe is to serve hot and iced tea and baked goods. The baked goods will not be baked on site, they will be delivered from a local bakery. I told the health dept about my idea and asked them if we would be required to get a health permit for our cafe (if a health permit is required, that means we have to make sure the workspace is up to code and this will cost roughly $10-15,000 for all the sinks, permits, new plumbing, etc). The health dept responded and said, “From what you described on your menu hot tea and commercially made baked goods, a public health permit is not required. These items are exempt from our food code. However, if you serve milk for the tea…” After reading over this and seriously thinking about our menu, I came to realize that MILK is the only reason we are required to get a health permit!!! MILK is the reason we are going to spend an extra $10-15,000!!!

I thought to myself, why don’t we just offer the little Moo Moo creamers and save all this headache, time and money? Regina and I talked about it for a bit and finally decided that if we are going to do this, we might as well do it right. Since we are now required to get a health permit, we decided to add a few more items to our menu, which I will release once it is all finished.

I never thought that a little thing such as milk would cost so much money.

C’est la vie:

Over the last few months, I have wanted to rip my hair out, scream out loud, cry in a corner and offer a choir of four-letter words, but three things have helped me keep sane. Thanks to my wife for her help and support, Thea for being the cutest baby girl who always makes me smile and finally, the book of Ecclesiastes, for helping me remember that God offers both good and bad times and there is no telling which one will come next, but you should pursue a God-centered life and if you keep your eye on Him then you can enjoy all the gifts He gives you.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13
What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.


Ryan Conlon
Employee of Jesus Christ

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