Rita MacNeil's iconic tea room closes its doors
An iconic Cape Breton business that celebrates one of the island’s most beloved singer-songwriters has closed its doors.
Rita’s Tea Room has been a staple and popular tourism destination in Big Pond, N.S., for over 30 years. Built in 1939, the tea room was once a one-room schoolhouse, and later became the home of Rita MacNeil, before she turned it into the tea room in 1986.
In a Facebook post, the business says it was a tough decision, but they feel it’s the right one at this time.
“Your support has been instrumental in keeping my mother’s original business venture alive,” reads the post. “Since her passing in 2013, I wanted to continue her vision with the tea room, and for six seasons, with some tweaks here and there … we managed to do just that.”
MacNeil’s many awards were on display inside the café, along with photos and other memorabilia. The business says a space on Charlotte Street in Sydney will incorporate some of the displays, along with a gift shop and some seating for tea, biscuits, and dessert.
“We will still be able to offer an overview of the Rita story, including her tea room, etc., making for a unique though different experience,” it said.
MacNeil worked tirelessly for decades, with her greatest success coming only after she was in her 40s. She went on to become a fixture in Canadian culture and sold out gigs around the world.
MacNeil died in April 2013, at the age of 68, following complications from surgery.
As per her wishes, her cremated remains were placed inside a teapot from her tea room.