AN award-winning Morpeth chocolatier will be stepping into a bygone era to create a traditional tea room.
Curiously Wicked, which opened in Sanderson Arcade just eight months ago, is embarking on the ambitious expansion to bring the facility to the town.
Work is already underway to create the tea room above the shop in a £180,000 transformation and 11 new staff will be hired.
The sumptuous tea room will be oozing Edwardian elegance, with oak-panelled walls, window seats, chandeliers and period furniture, and there will even be a private Chocolate Snug to hire for special occasions.
Customers will be greeted by curtsying staff, wearing traditional costumes, and everyone will be addressed as sir or madam.
Laptops will be banned and mobile phones strongly discouraged.
Chef David Hall, who has cooked for Royalty, has been appointed to join the tea room from Derwent Manor Hotel.
Owner Krystyna Dodds said: “We are so excited about opening the Curiously Wicked tea rooms. The Edwardian era was all about opulence and elegance and we want people to feel transported to those times and to feel they can escape reality for a short time. Everyone will be addressed as sir or madam — it really will be a little slice of Downton Abbey.
“That era really was the pinnacle of Edwardian elegance and we want the experience people have when they come here to really reflect that. We are already planning to put a sign above the door telling people they are going back into the 21st century when they leave here.”
The family business started out with stalls at North East farmers’ markets, before the first shop was opened in Morpeth in November last year.
Since then, the company has built up its reputation for offering an array of tasty treats, such as chocolates, cakes, desserts and chocolate sculptures, and it was the first chocolatier in the country to become a full member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen.
Last year, it won an award from the Academy of Chocolate.
Mrs Dodds said: “It really is fantastic to have the opportunity to expand at Sanderson Arcade just eight months after we first opened our first shop in the UK. The response from our customers really has been fantastic and everyone keeps asking when we are opening upstairs.
“We are also extremely blessed to have such fantastic support from our landlords Dransfield Properties, who have been on this journey every step of the way to bring as much authenticity as possible to this wonderful project.”
The new tea room is scheduled to open in September and tasting events are planned.
Sanderson Arcade Manager Medi Parry said: “Krystyna and her team really are bringing something completely different to the area, which will be a great visitor attraction for Morpeth. Their attention to detail and passion for what they do is fantastic and we can’t wait to see the new tea rooms.”