Tea room style cafe offers gluten free options and more

Published on Sunday, 23 July 2017 13:09 - Written by ELSA CAVAZOS, ecavazos@tylerpaper.com

Tonia Bankhead used to bake for PTA meetings in Whitehouse - and for fun. But because of her love of cooking and baking, Specialty Kitchen and Bakery was created.

It’s a family-owned business with a feminine tea room style that specializes in cakes, muffins, scones and light lunch options as well as ready-to-take casseroles.

Ms. Bankhead does all the cooking, while her parents, Larue and Alan Decker, take care of the cleaning and handling of the restaurant.

Ms. Bankhead also gives cooking classes from time to time, with the next one, themed “Southern Holidays,” set for Oct. 5.

“I have helped girlfriends in the past, teaching them a few recipes here and there, and when I can, I do other classes,” Ms. Bankhead said.

Ms. Bankhead works around 80 hours a week preparing the casseroles and menu options for the restaurant.

Specialty Kitchen and Bakery also caters to several organizations and is open to catering special events such as birthday parties, luncheons and more.

The small, comfortable spot is close to attorney offices, with those attorneys and their staff soon discovering the distinct cafe.

Attorneys Richard Grainger, Christin Allison and Tommy Fontenot tried three times to stop by to grab a bite, but missed the correct opening hours. Once they did make it, they were hooked.

“We work on Houston Street, which is very close by and we like to come by and have lunch here because the service is good and the food, too,” Grainger said.

Grainger ordered a turkey, bacon and pimento cheese sandwich on jalapeno bread.

At the same time, two first-timers stepped inside to have lunch as well.

Joyce Milburn and Beverly Hurst decided to come after a friend referred Milburn.

“I like tearooms like this, quaint and cozy, and I would definitely bring a friend back,” Ms. Hurst said.

Specialty Kitchen and Bakery, 400 W. Rusk St., is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The eatery offers gluten-free options ranging from casseroles, pasta, scones and more.

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