Family Portrait: The Fox-Eisenberg Familiy
Meet Haley Fox, the co-owner of Alice's Tea Cup, and her family.
Wed Mar 14 2012
As a self-identified "tea snob" who grew up attending afternoon tea in Manhattan with her mother, Haley Fox knew from an early age that loose tea trumped bagged and that there are multiple types of Darjeeling. So it was only fitting that, as an adult, she opened up Alice's Tea Cup with her sister—and fellow tea snob—Lauren. The beloved teahouse (and popular kid birthday-party spot) now has three locations that serve fine tea and scones along with a menu of scrumptious fare; a pared down outlet can be found inside Chelsea's Books of Wonder as well. Naturally, Fox, who lives on the Upper West Side with her husband, Michael Eisenberg, the company's director of operations, has passed down her love of the drink to their son, Maddan, 8, and daughter, Finley, 5.
Do your children spend a lot of time at the different Alice's Tea Cup locations?
ME Yes! They still think of it as a special experience, but they also have a pride of ownership as well.
HF They're both obsessed with our pumpkin scones and pretty much all of the baked goods. We do the chocolate cake for their birthdays—they won't eat any other chocolate cake.
Sounds like they like sweets! Do you have any issues getting them to eat healthy food?
HF I think we do, like everybody, but we're very creative about it at home. We make kale chips and I've gotten them to eat flounder by using butter and panko. We also make them an avocado shake every day—it's half an avocado, a spoonful of yogurt, some maple syrup and a little bit of milk. A friend from Lebanon gave us this suggestion.
Do the kids drink tea?
HF They love rooibos. It's a South African herb that translates to "red bush." We used to give it to Maddan when he was a baby because he didn't like to drink much—a half bottle of rooibos with a half of breast milk!
Any new tea trends we should keep an eye out for?
ME A lot of blends are becoming more and more inspired by what's going on in the culinary field. We got a proposal the other day for a birthday cake tea. People are infusing the tea with different flavors of birthday cake and cupcakes. We're definitely not going that route!
HF We already carry 140 different teas, so our expansion plans are pretty limited. We've also been a little resistant to some of the trends like bubble tea.
What's been your secret to making Alice's Tea Cup such a family friendly place?
HF We just try to make it as comfortable as possible. We have fairy wings that are available for kids to wear while they're having their tea, and books they can read. And we sparkle kids when they come in with fairy dust! It makes the girls act more proper, like little ladies having afternoon tea—and that's good for everybody!
"The kids adore the American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th St; 212-769-5100, amnh.org). We started going when they were babies, because in the winter it's hard to find a place to go with a stroller. Of course, we love seeing the big whale and the fish. And now Maddan learns something every single time we go to the planetarium—he's like a sponge."
"Everything at Grom Gelato (2165 Broadway at 76th St; 212-362-1837, grom.it) is made without preservatives. They're very clear about where they get their ingredients, so you know that everything you're eating is healthy and safe, as well as delicious. We love the stracciatella and dark- chocolate gelato and the lemon sorbet. They make an insane thick hot chocolate, too."
"Make Meaning (*329 Columbus Ave between 75th and 76th Sts; 212-362-0350, makemeaning.com. *1501 Third Ave between 84th and 85th Sts, 212-744-0011) isn't just a pottery place. You can also make soap, candles and jewelry. Finley made a tile to put her hot tea on and a bracelet for a friend of ours. It's a nice way to spend time with your kids—you can talk while working together on a project."
"We love Mohonk Mountain House (1000 Mountain Rest Rd, New Paltz, NY; 800-772-6646, mohonk.com). We often go up there during the Christmas season and the kids make gingerbread houses and decorate the tree and sing carols. We walk the grounds and it's beautiful, especially with the snow. They also have an outdoor skating rink that's amazing."
"Madden goes to camp at the New York City Guitar School (251 W 30th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves; 646-485-7244, nycguitarschool.com) with his two closest friends. They put on a show at the end where Madden sang "Forget You" and "Eye of the Tiger" and played the piano. His friend who had never played guitar played guitar, and the other friend played drums."
"We really like West Side Kids (498 Amsterdam Ave at 84th St; 212-496-7282, westsidekidsnyc.com). Most of the store's playthings are educational. We've been really into the game Quirkle."