The St. James Tearoom sprang up out of the recognition of a great need in society today: the need to escape the "Tyranny of the Urgent" of our modern day frenetic pace of life, to depart from the "parched landscape of fluorescent lighting and chain- restaurant sameness"(Charlotte Balcomb Lane article on The St. James Tearoom, 2000) to rest, reflect, gain margin back into life, and above all, foster relationships in a society that at best creates shallow ones.''
Mary Alice Higbie began thinking how this need could be met long before the tearoom first opened in 1999, and she settled upon using the medium of the British tradition of tea she had practiced all her life, a tradition specifically designed to foster reflection and relationships, to slow down and savor life itself. A classically trained Japanese porcelain artist,china painter, and expert gardener, Mary Alice approached the creation of her tearoom with a trained artist's eye, understanding that the quality and excellence of the experience would have to be unparalleled in Albuquerque for the tradition of tea to catch on.
In short order she solicited the aid of her son, Daniel, and after a flurry of activity, the tearoom was established in December of 1999, as a tiny (27 seat) tea service establishment just north of Olde Towne Albuquerque, with 3 employees. Within 6 months a rating of MMMM was awarded to the tearoom by the chief food editor of the Albuquerque Journal at that time, Charlotte Balcomb Lane; (her initial review is included in the Reviews section).
What followed were years of blood, sweat, and tears as business lessons were learned, growth progressed slowly but surely, and the process itself was refined and refined yet again, always constantly reevaluated to squeeze every last possible drop of excellence out of the experience.