Shangri-La Tea Room and Cafe, known for its flavorful teas and vegetarian cuisine, is moving to 1350 Vista Ave., next door to Wells Fargo Bank, on the Boise Bench. The restaurant will remain at its current location at 1800 W. Overland Road, off of Federal Way, until the end of August. The tea room’s owners then hope to reopen Shangri-La at its new location in early September.
Toni Hodge, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband, Bob, cited a 2016 rent increase at their current location for the decision to move. She said the rent increase put the restaurant under significant financial pressure.
“This last year has just been devastating,” she said. “There have been weeks where we close out the week with $7 or less.”
But the community response to their hard times has cascaded into an amazing offering, Hodge said.
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An architect is donating his services as the Hodges prepare to move into their new building. The Goddess Fest matched donations for a week to a GoFundMe account that Shangri-La had set up to help with its move and also gave Shangri-La a free booth at its recent festival. Musicians who play gigs at the restaurant arranged a fundraising performance.
“When I thanked them, they said, ‘This is what a community does for each other. If you’re part of a community, you help your brothers and sisters,’” Hodge said. “Not that many businesses think like that.”
The Hodges fashioned Shangri-La after authentic tea houses in Asian culture.
“The tea house in Asian culture is where people like the ‘cloud wanderers’ — monks and the mystics — come into the village and sing or share poetry for their supper, and then the tea house would pay them with food and drinks,” Hodge said. “The tea houses were actually the hub of the community, and that was our hope, that this would become that.”
Hodge doesn’t expect the restaurant’s operation to change much in its new location, and they are still planning to host live music every weekend and occasionally throughout the week.
“We’re going to try to capture what we’ve been doing and just improve on it,” Hodge said.
Hodge also hopes to continue her holistic wellness practice of making juice free of charge for cancer patients who can’t consume food.
“My mother died when I was 9 of cancer, and I really want to be able to continue this offering,” Hodge said. “If we can at least make a difference in a few people’s lives in our lifetime, then we’ve done our job.”
Shangri-La Tea Room and Cafe is currently located at 1800 W. Overland Road, but hopes to reopen in early September at its new location at 1350 Vista Ave. The restaurant is still welcoming donations to its GoFundMe account to help with its move and will be holding a fundraiser Sunday, Aug. 6, from 12:45 to 8:00 p.m. with live music from local musicians at its Overland location. Visit the Facebook page for more updates.