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The Life Of Wild Lily Tea Room-The Media Story 1

The Media

The Tea Room officially opened its door in early September.  The first hour we opened at the 11am, Florence Fabricant , the food writer of NYTimes was our first customer. She sat at the communal table and ordered a pot of tea for 4 dollars. She left within 20 minutes without asking any questions.  Then this article appeared the following Wednesday at the dinning section of the Times.  She said,” Tea From an Artist: Wild Lily Tea Room, a serene oasis with a small pool of water set into its multilevel stone floor, has opened at 511 West 22nd..…..  Ines Sun all but abandoned her efforts to make painting a career to devote herself to the tearoom….”


From that day this article published, we were asked to be interviewed and photographed endlessly by the media worldwide in all languages you could imagine. This short and precise written article initiated the fame and success for wild lily tea room.


There was a side story to this-I went to a reading prior choosing the right spot for the business.  One was in SoHo and the other Chelsea.  He said that the space is filled with light and associated with art or museums sort.  The most wild thing he said was, “ You will be internationally known.”

As a young student barely speaking any English coming New York in 1991 to study at NYU, it was hard to envision how on the earth I could be internationally known.  Could I seriously listen to someone wearing a feather on his head about my future?!


I called my mother after the article appeared.  This was a rare instance that I was proud enough to call my mother announcing my name printed on the NYTimes.  She did not say much.  She hated the idea that abandoned my business executive career. I was making almost the same salary as her, and I was 28.  She had a high positing in baking her whole life and paid my school and living expenses in NY.  She said to me,” I spent millions of NTD to send you aboard to be educated and not to open a restaurant. If your cook did not show up one day, can you stand on your foot a whole day in the kitchen?!”   She was right!  (She was even right about the locations.  She advised me to take the Chelsea spot even the street was desert most of the days.) 

The cooks did not show up many times in that ten years period and I ran into emergencies such as water coming down like a waterfall from the ceiling in consecutive days and landlord would not response , a burglar broken in twice in the middle of night activated alarm system,  no one wanted to work on Valentines night one year, all of sudden no water at all to wash or make tea…… I have endured and gone through it all.  I did cry at times in bed, then the door opened the next day at 11am. The life of the wild lily tearoom went on.


One year my face was on the big TV screen at
Time Square featured in network news.  I
did not call my mother this time.  Fame
has never given me any more happiness.  5
minutes on the phone with my mother that one time topped it all.  I was always reluctant to be known.  NYtimes came again few years later and this
time, I got the photo opportunity.  I
said, ”I really don’t want to be taken photos. I have many good looking
waitresses, can they be in the photo instead?" The journalist said,” Come
on! This is the culture, which needs a face and dyeing for heroes.”  I listened and gave in.  The photos were taken.  Looking at it today, I still hated it.