When COVID hit the restaurant industry hard, Open Door Tea hit back harder. Founded in 2016 by Polish immigrant owner Kasia Lindeberg, this cozy cafe in Fairfield County faced revenues down over 50% in the second quarter of 2020. Dylan Lindeberg, seasoned entrepreneur and marketer, joined the team full time to implement new strategies. Virtual Tea Tastings were born that summer, welcoming rapid success for its innovative concept and engaging experience. 2021 revenues are expected to double the 2019 pre-COVID numbers.
Of the success, Dylan Lindeberg states, “In 2020, we were faced with a choice. Cut hours and try to save money, or invest back into our people and systems, refreshing our offering and moving into the unknown. We chose the latter, and that risk has led to massive reward. This new success has financed growth opportunities that will expand our brand into new and lucrative markets, and above all keeps us thriving in our small but devoted community.”
Tea tastings have always been a part of Open Door Tea. Pre-coronavirus, these were intimate affairs where tea aficionado Kasia guided participants in sampling new teas and ceremony styles. When COVID first hit, Open Door Tea started live streaming tastings on Facebook for free. In August, when a multi-billion dollar law firm reached out to set up a tasting for their clients, Dylan and Kasia realized this could be a huge opportunity. Today, Open Door Tea continues to be the world leader in virtual coffee and tea tasting experiences.
Since last summer, Open Door Tea has hosted hundreds of tea tastings for corporations, non-profits, private parties, and tea enthusiasts in over 20 countries. Each person is mailed several samples of tea and a cookie, and participates in an hour-long tasting where everyone steeps, sips, chats, and laughs over a hot cup of delicious loose leaf tea. Other goodies can be added to the experience, like an infuser, honey, teaware, or extra tea, or even a coffee tasting or handmade chocolate truffles. Kasia is joined by Jeannie Holst, a longtime employee and certified mindfulness instructor, who moderates and leads a mindfulness session at the end for complete mental peace and tranquility.
As vaccinations ramp up and the world begins to return to the “new normal”, many companies are allowing their employees to work from home perpetually. In other cases, teams are spread around the world, interacting solely by phone, email and video conference. Virtual events will continue to be a good solution for human resource teams and managers that want their remote employees to bond and build connections with one another.