Drucilla’s Tea Room: Creativity And On Site Catering

It was the fall of 2014 when I first had the chance to tell the readers of Athens Now about Drucilla’s, a Victorian era “manse” (parsonage), converted into a marvelous restaurant. It is the labor of love of Athens native Carol Holland, and named in honor of her grandmother, Drucilla. Now it is 2017, and Carol has teamed up with Lori Hartselle to bring customers a chance to create seasonal keepsakes while sampling delicious fare. I will tell you about what they have “cooked” up in a moment, but first let me tell you about some changes in the menu and on the floor that Carol is finishing up.

“We are changing our lunch selections some and planning to offer more of a ‘tea-room’ type fare. “We will keep our loaded potato soup that everyone loves, and add a second soup daily. Our salads and sandwiches will also stay, as will our delicious desserts,” she added. “We aren’t planning on offering the hot daily specials but if any group of six or more will call in for a reservation 48 hours ahead, we will be happy to prepare the hot meal of their choice for them. We also plan to have ‘homemade goodies’ always ready for sale – banana bread, muffins, cookies, etc.”

Another change is the concept of “on-site catering.” Drucilla’s is known for bridal showers, family reunions, baby showers, receptions, and high teas. “We want to do weddings as well as rehearsal dinners, and receptions, too,” she said. The house is large enough to handle around 40 guests inside, and more outside for an outdoor wedding.

We discussed what her plans were for Drucilla’s to be a part of this Valentine’s Day, and she was pleased to report that a church group had reserved out the entire venue for a special sweethearts’ dinner. I asked her if she had finalized the menu, and she said, “They’ll have their choice of Poulet de Normandie, congealed cranberry salad, and green beans, or prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans.” Each individual’s menu choice will be provided as part of finalizing their reservation. The dessert will be the ultimate all-American confection, red velvet cake. Urban legend states that it was a cake served by the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, and the recipe was sold for $350 during the Great Depression. She is not sure whether she’ll go with cream cheese frosting or an old fashioned boiled seven-minute frosting, but either way, it is bound to be memorable.

In keeping with the transition to more of an Antiques/Tea Room atmosphere, there will be more items for sale throughout the restaurant. Small items such as dishes, crystal, glassware, quilts, small furniture pieces will be available. Another new feature will be a small boutique featuring vintage ladies’ accessories. “We’ll have jewelry, hats, scarves, and pocketbooks. Every once in awhile there will be shoes,” she said.

Lori Hartselle, mentioned above, is a welcome addition to the Drucilla’s team. She and Carol have come up with some great ideas for adults and kids to enjoy the food and history of the house, create artwork and food, learn the traditions associated with high teas, and perhaps participate in a dinner mystery.

Here’s the schedule:
February- Valentine’s Day heart shaped door hanger
March- a cross-themed canvas painting
April- Easter egg door hanger
May- Mother Day’s gift paint class (ages 7+)
June- Father’s Day’s gift paint class (ages 7+)
July- Youth abstract on canvas
August- High Tea etiquette and/or monster cookie baking class (ages 7+)
September- Fall painting on canvas
October- Halloween door hanger
November- Vintage ornament door hanger
December- Christmas themed painting on canvas

All of the monthly art projects will feature refreshments from Drucilla’s and are included in the price of the class.

We talked about things that it seems nobody seems to know how to do anymore, such as setting a table, or how to enjoy a tea. “I learned how to do fractions by cooking,” she said, with a fond remembrance of being in the kitchen with her grandma, Drucilla.

Another attraction that Carol is currently investigating is the hosting of an interactive murder mystery dinner. She is going to attend the one being presented soon in Huntsville to see how they do it, and knows there are great folks in Athens who would be good characters to play the parts. If you have ever been upstairs at Drucilla’s, you know there is a literal library and mezzanine, perfect for a live game of Clue where it was “Colonel Mustard in the library with a candle stick.” I am looking forward to seeing what she puts together, both in terms of food and fun.

So, if you are looking to take a step back into another time during your lunch hour, a place to take your daughter or other special little girl for a memorable high tea, a perfect place for a Victorian wedding, or a place to figure out “who-dunnit” after a delicious meal, call Drucilla’s today for your reservation. I can speak from experience: it will be memorable.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner