Books about tea rooms -- and more
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A fascinating glimpse of the early days of the American tea room in hotels and department stores, and on city boulevards and country roads.

Tea rooms were cosy resorts for women venturing out into a man's world in the early 20th century. They also provided a way for home-based women to use their homemaking and entertaining skills to make an income. Many early tea rooms were located in their proprietor's homes. One manual advised prospective tea room keepers to make sure family toothbrushes were removed from the bathroom before opening for business each day.

An exploration of 70 years of the American department store, inside and out, from the show windows to the tea room on the top floor, stopping at the college shop and the handkerchief counter along the way.

Praise for Service and Style

"lively pop history ... richly detailed" Publishers Weekly

Named one of the best business books of 2006 by Library Journal (March 2007).

"Now, with Federated Department Stores Inc. gathering the majority of the nation's department stores ... under a single marketing umbrella -- Macy's -- Jan Whitaker's exhaustive book couldn't be more timely."
Steve Giegerich, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"... a highly readable book filled with fascinating facts and wonderful evocative pictures. ... this book will bring back memories." Marietta Pritchard, Daily Hampshire Gazette

"... her book is intriguing, thorough and well stocked with high-quality goods... Arthur Salm, San Diego Union Tribune

"... an attractive and informative look at the kind of retailing that united the nation long before TV and radio networks or the Internet." Keith Runyon, The Courier Journal

Praise for Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn


"Looking for something more rewarding than reading tea leaves but just as much fun? Dip into Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn. ... The book is both informative and clear-eyed, and leavened with wonderful illustrations." House & Garden

"Enlightenment – wondrous revelation, in fact – has come in the shape of Jan Whitaker’s Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America. Here is a real contribution to social history ..." Katherine A. Powers, Boston Sunday Globe

"Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn (there was one, incidentally), is such a good read – informative, enlightening, and often amusing. ... a superb job on the research, ... will stand as a great reference tool. The excellent illustrations and photographs perfectly complement her text." Ian Marlowe, Tea: A Magazine

"Filled with wonderful illustrations depicting signs, menus, and art from the 1920s." Deb Tomaselli, Book Sense 76

"Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn is a beautiful, complete, educational and entertaining work. It would be a great reading-group title as well, offering a chance to study a well-written piece of work, learn more about our business heritage, remember our own experiences in tea rooms we maybe didn't even know were tea rooms, and devour the fabulous illustrations." Diana Krauth, Pioneer Valley Women's Times

"... handles the scholarship lightly, often with humor, suggesting how social history, and more specifically, women’s history, interacts with commercial potential." Claire Hopley, The Bolton Common

"Whitaker conducts a delightful tour of the tearooms that dotted the nation in the first half of the twentieth century. ... Readers will relish this irresistible slice of American popular culture." Margaret Flanagan, Booklist

"It's a beautifully illustrated history of the tea room, and a fun read for anyone interested in roadside culture." B.J. Roche, Boston Sunday Globe

"Writing with charm and grace so appropriate to her subject, Jan Whitaker puts this curious culinary phenomenon into a social context. Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn is a joy to read and to look at – what beguiling vintage illustrations!" Jane and Michael Stern, authors of Roadfood

Selected Works